Kiwis falter in Denver

By James Perry

The Kiwis let a 12-0 first-half lead slip in the historic rugby league test match in Denver, USA, losing 36-18 to England.

It can only be fair to say that the New Zealand National Anthem has seen better days. And the same can be said for Isaac Luke's kick off which went dead on the full. Gifting England with a penalty on halfway.

However, it was the Kiwis who got into the historic first Rugby League test at Broncos Stadium in Denver earlier. Esan Marsters, one of many Kiwi debutants crossed for the first try in the 10th minute. 

Fullback Dallin Wātene-Zelezniak crossed for the first of his tries a short while later. However, the momentum slowly shifted towards the England side.

Kiwis lock-forward Martin Taupau said post-game, "We had control in the first twenty minutes. But in the back end of that first half, look I think we lost a little bit of momentum. Just the fundamentals - catch, pass, a little bit of a letdown."

The Video Referee allowed a try to Ryan Hall, although replays suggest he may have lost control of the ball.

The English never relented scoring another try just before the break to go into the sheds trailing 12-10. 

As the English began to assert their dominance in the 2nd half, the Kiwis started to show their frustration. Hooker Luke seemingly trampling on John Bateman's hand, which sparked a little melee. 

Wātene-Zelezniak was probably the pick of the Kiwi players, he scored two tries, the second of which finished off an Isaac Luke line break, and he was generally busy throughout the 80 minutes.

Broncos Stadium sits 1600m above sea level. And it was a lot warmer in Denver than what the players would have recently experienced in the NRL. Taupau saying, "Ive never felt like this in my life ever in my rugby league career... it was a struggle." 

England claim bragging rights in the USA, however the Kiwis have a chance to redeem themselves later in the year on their northern tour.