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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 October, 2004, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Kiwis earn draw in Auckland
Australia's Willie Mason tries to break through the New Zealand defence
New Zealand produced a superb fightback to hold Australia to a 16-16 draw in the opening game of the Tri-Nations series in Auckland.

The home side drew first blood with a try from Vinnie Anderson, but Australia soon took control with two Luke Rooney tries and one from Anthony Minichiello.

Louis Anderson then dived over for New Zealand to make it 12-16 at half-time.

Francis Meli's try levelled the scores and Australia missed several late drop goal attempts in a tense finale.

Both Darren Lockyer and Craig Gower miscued kicks in the final five minutes despite seemingly having plenty of time to take aim.

And, with time ticking away, Kangaroos centre Shaun Berrigan made a late break, only to be pulled back for a forward pass.

Lockyer lined up one more drop goal attempt but the final hooter went before he could get his effort away.

The two sides will meet again at Loftus Road next Saturday when the series switches to Britain.

New Zealand: Webb, Meli, Vagana, Whatuira, Utai, V Anderson, Leuluai, J. Cayless, L Anderson, Wiki, Puletua, Galuvao, B Williams.
Replacements: Tony, Asotasi, N. Cayless, Kidwell.

Australia: Minichiello, Rooney, Berrigan, Tonga, Sing, Lockyer, Gower, Webcke, Buderus, Ryles, Mason, Hindmarsh, Carroll.
Replacements: Wing, Civoniceva, Kennedy, Ryan.

Referee: R Smith (England).

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