Australia vs New Zealand: Disbelief over Brandon Smith, Cameron Murray tries in Rugby World Cup epic

Australia are through to the Rugby World Cup final after a modern-day epic in their semi-final with New Zealand in Leeds on Saturday morning.

The game was a rollercoaster ride as the lead changed several times before New Zealand came awfully close to scoring a late winner in the dying minutes.

Australia will consider themselves lucky to have survived the fight and will face either England or Samoa in the final.

The difference between the two teams – and the final score of 16-14 – finally narrowed at a time when Kiwi Brandon Smith appeared to crumble in the defensive line.

Australia regained the lead after a bizarre try from Cameron Murray in the 54th minute when Smith and Nelson Asofa-Solomona were cracked as they tried to defend their line.

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Panic seemed to set in for the reigning world champions at the start of the second half as New Zealand began to dominate the competition.

However, a complete rift between the two New Zealand defenders changed everything.

Murray received the ball 10m from the try line following a penalty and was on a regulation kick when he inexplicably found a hole between Smith and Asofa-Solomona – and then scored wide of the post.

“The Kiwis are in disbelief,” Fox League commentator Andrew Voss said.

An English co-commentator said: “It’s not acceptable at this level. They would be really unhappy with that one.”

Replays showed Smith being slow to get back to his feet and join the defensive line after giving a penalty for slowing the previous tackle. He was barely moving when Murray rushed towards him.

Smith retired from the field a few minutes later.

Kangaroos legend Cooper Cronk was also scathing about Smith’s missed tackle.

“For a guy who’s fighting for a bone like Smith, if you go back to what he did for that Murray try, I think it’s going to hurt him for a long time,” Cronk told Fox League.

“He just hasn’t left the line at all, and Brandon Smith for a guy who moves and accelerates with every play, he’s just caught on his heels. He was resting. He had played long minutes and he was tired.

“And he just cost them a bit of the game there because Cam Murray just went past where he should have been.”

NRL great Brian Fletcher also said: “I think Brandon Smith, he was pretty clueless and looking back on it I think he got slammed for lying in the ruck before that, I think he will say to himself that it was quite disappointing”.

The match exploded early after New Zealand scored the opening try following a bizarre pass from Roosters star Joey Manu.

However, that moment of magic was preempted minutes later when Josh Addo-Carr scored “one of the great tries in rugby league”, according to Voss.

Addo-Carr left some commentators stunned as he latched on to an accurate kick from Ben Hunt while showing stunning speed to score in the 15th minute.

Addo-Carr’s try was his 12th try of the tournament, equaling the record for most goals scored in a single Rugby League World Cup. Valentine Holmes held the record by scoring 12 tries at the 2017 World Cup.

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Addo-Carr’s 12th try was the most special of the lot.

He sprinted almost 40m as Hunt’s kick was in the air and his speed seemed to unsettle Kiwi winger Jordan Rapana, who let the ball float above him and into the hands of the speedster Bulldogs.

“It’s breathtaking,” said Andrew Voss.

“What have we just witnessed? »

Australia’s second try came from fine work by Jack Wighton who managed to throw a brilliant offload to Holmes near the try line.

However, New Zealand regained the lead when Dylan Brown scored in the 36th minute.

Panic was clearly setting in for Australia in the second half when a scrum was triggered by a Nathan Cleary strike.

Kiwi defender Isaiah Papali’i roared in Cleary’s face after the error and it prompted Cameron Murray to rush in and push the New Zealand forward. A penalty was awarded to New Zealand

Even though New Zealand no longer needed the motivation, the tournament organizers still gave it to them.

The Kiwis were such strangers to the semi-final that Rugby World Cup organizers booked the New Zealand side’s flight home – for the day after the semi-final.

It was a move that stunned the New Zealand side, who went all the way against Fiji in the quarter-finals last week.

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