Scotland made history tonight at Workington’s Derwent Park, becoming the first minor nation to earn a Four Nations point when they drew 18-18 with New Zealand, the number one ranked team in the world.
It was an extraordinary game played in driving heavy rain and very cold conditions, and the Scots came into the game after having had just one training session of 40 minutes, with several players coming into the game carrying knocks.
The game was competitive from the kick-off, with the Scottish defence continually putting the Kiwis under pressure, and it wasn’t until the 23rd minute that David Fusitu’a scored their first try after great work by Shaun Johnson and Tohu Harris, with Issac Luke adding the goal for a 6-0 lead.
The Scots replied three minutes later, however, when Lewis Tierney touched down a Lachlan Coote grubber, although it was too wide out for Danny Brough to convert in the windy conditions.
The Kiwis were leading 6-4 at the interval and Fusitu’a scored his second try after 55 minutes when Dallin Watene-Zeleozniak joined the line to give the scoring pass. Luke’s kick was blown away from the posts, and shortly afterwards Kiwi stand-off Thomas Leuluai had to leave the field holding his jaw after a clash of heads. The injury was later confirmed as a broken jaw.
The Scots pulled level in the 67th minute after a great run down the wing by Tierney, who passed inside to Ben Hellewell, who sold a great dummy to cross for a try. Brough’s goal levelled the scores at 10-10, but a great cheer then went up when they were awarded a penalty and Brough’s goal gave them a two-point lead.
As the tension mounted going into the final ten minutes, the Kiwis snatched the lead with a try by Gerard Beale from a superb pass to the wing from Johnson.
And when Beale scored his second try shortly afterwards from a superb passing movement, the game looked to be over, although Luke could convert neither try, so the gap was still six points.
But the Scots hadn’t given up, and they fought back two minutes from time with a superb try by Euan Aitken, who palmed off Jason Nightingale and Martin Taupau, and Brough’s goal levelled the scores for a memorable night for Scotland Rugby League.
Scotland: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Lewis Tierney, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Matthew Russell, 6 Danny Brough (c), 7 Danny Addy, 8 Adam Walker, 9 Liam Hood, 10 Luke Douglas, 11 Ben Hellewell, 12 Dale Ferguson, 13 Ben Kavanagh. Interchange: 14 Ryan Brierley, 15 Frankie Mariano, 16 Brett Phillips, 17 Billy McConnachie.
New Zealand: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Jason Nightingale 3. Solomone Kata 4. Gerard Beale 5. David Fusitu’a 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jesse Bromwich (c) 9. Issac Luke 10. Adam Blair 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tohu Harris 13. Greg Eastwood. Interchange: 14. Te Maire Martin 15. Martin Taupau 16. James Fisher-Harris 17. Joseph Tapine
A full report, analysis and photos will appear in the next edition of League Express.