Scotland draw with titleholder Kiwis 18-18 in Four Nations
WORKINGTON, England (AP) — Scotland earned a surprising point against New Zealand by snatching an 18-18 draw in Four Nations rugby league in wet and windy northwest England on Friday.
Scotland captain Danny Brough converted Euan Aitken's first try for Scotland two minutes from the end to secure a draw.
A draw was the least the Scots deserved after out-playing the Kiwis for long periods as they maintained their unbeaten record at Workington, where they have secured two wins and two draws from four matches at their second home.
England will go through to the final at Anfield next weekend if it beats Australia at the Olympic Stadium in London on Sunday, while New Zealand will go through with a Kangaroos victory.
It was a performance of true grit and determination from Scotland against New Zealand.
Brough needed a painkilling injection before kickoff to combat a knee injury, and he lost his half-back partner Danny Addy for a concussion assessment after 11 minutes.
But the Scots were full of energy from the start. They were helped by an early run of four penalties which enabled them to play the first quarter of the match in their opponents' half and it was against the run of play when the Kiwis took the lead after 23 minutes. Right winger David Fusitu'a, one of four Kiwis making their debut, took an offload from second-rower Tohu Harris to go over.
Scotland struck back just three minutes later through winger Lewis Tierney, and though they trailed 6-4 into halftime, they turned with the wind and rain at their backs.
The turning point appeared to come in the 50th when Brough's attacking kick went straight into the hands of Fusitu'a, who counterattacked. He got on the end of a sublime pass from Shaun Johnson for his second try and a 10-4 lead.
However, standoff Thomas Le'ulua'i went off in the 57th with a facial injury, and the Kiwis' fortunes went from bad to worse in four minutes.
Fullback Lachlan Coote released Tierney down the right flank, and second-rower Ben Hellewell was on his inside to take the final pass and dummy his way over. Brough's first conversion tied the scores, and Scotland was in dreamland three minutes when later he put his side in front with a 35-metre penalty.
The dream looked to have been dashed inside three minutes, as the Kiwis quickly regrouped and center Gerard Beale went over for two tries in three minutes, largely through the sublime handling skills of Johnson.
However, Isaac Luke was unable to master the swirling wind and convert the tries, leaving a six-point margin that was enough for the resilient Scots to strike back.
New Zealand 18 (David Fusitu'a 2, Gerard Beale 2 tries; Isaac Luke goal), Scotland 18 (Lewis Tierney, Ben Hellewell, Euan Aitken tries; Danny Brough 3 goals). HT: 6-4