Wallabies given lively workout by Maori
June 9, 2001

The world champion Wallabies got the searching build-up they wanted before their rugby series with the Lions as they battled to overcome the New Zealand Maori 41-29 at the Sydney Football

Australia scored five tries to two but were never able to dominate or subdue their vigorous opponents, who lived up to their pre-match promise of playing "in your face" rugby.
The Wallabies led 21-16 at halftime and 31-19 on the hour but the Maori team came close to an upset win late in the game when they trailed 31-29.

Australia mixed sparkling passages of play with some poor tackling and ball retention in a performance which would have given coach Rod Macqueen plenty to ponder before the Lions three match series starting in Brisbane on June 23. Three of Australia's tries were scored by some of their least experienced players.

Winger Andrew Walker and prop Nick Stiles each marked their appearance with Australia with tries and together with Daniel Herbert breached the Maori line in the first half.

Walker's dazzling 30-metre solo effort in the 27th minute which set up a 14-6 lead, came just a minute after South African referee Jonathan Kaplan disallowed a sensational counter-attacking score to Maori and All Black flanker Troy Flavell.

The try was scrubbed for an earlier shoulder charge on Stephen Larkham by centre Caleb Ralph, who was subsequently sinbinned.
Fullback Carlos Spencer crossed for the first of his two tries shortly before halftime to ensure his team remained within touch.

In the second half, the two kickers exchanged penalties before Larkham intercepted a pass from replacement pivot David Hill and scampered 40 metres to set up the Wallabies 31-19 lead.

Even then, the Maoris fought back with Spencer crossing for his second try with a conversion and another penalty cutting the gap to just two points.

Matthew Burke, who took over the kicking duties after Elton Flatley was replaced, kicked a penalty and converted a last gasp try to replacement back Graeme Bond to round out the scoring.

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