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Legends of League raise more than $100,000 for Earthquake Appeal

More than $100,000 was raised for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal when rugby league stars of yesteryear wound back the clock in tonight's entertaining Legends of League Charity Match at Mount Smart Stadium.
Legends of League raise more than $100,000 for Earthquake Appeal
by NRL

More than $100,000 was raised for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal when rugby league stars of yesteryear wound back the clock in tonight's entertaining Legends of League Charity Match at Mount Smart Stadium.

A crowd of more than 6000, $18,000 raised from auctions for playing spots in both teams and bucket collections on the night are expected to take the total well past six figures.

The crowd came to see a galaxy of rugby league talent stepping back in time on a night when they were aided by former Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea football star Mark Bosnich as well as two unknown New Zealanders Dean Affleck from Cromwell and John Cornwell from Auckland. Cornwell paid $9250 to play for the Australian team and Affleck $8750 for his spot in the New Zealand line-up.

What was already a special night for the two TradeMe men became even more memorable midway through the second half when, within minutes of each other, they each scored a try.

Cornwell wore a big shot from Monty Betham, was helped back to his feet and then kindly escorted to the line as would-be tacklers fell aside. Not that anyone minded one bit. Moments later Australia's defence was equally generous as Aflick surged across. While they were elated to score, though, both guest players were rather mortified to miss their conversion attempts from right in front of he posts.

It was an evening when at one stage the referee even carted the ball up off a scrum, when water boy Hugh McGahan obstructed Australian defenders and sprayed the ref with his water bottle and when these heroes showed they've lost little of their touch. Speed may have deserted most of them and many were a little bigger around the girth and greyer on top but their football instincts haven't left them.

Several are still in fine physical shape, not least Ruben Wiki, Monty Betham, Richie Barnett and Kevin Campion but what they all had in common was the desire to relive their younger years as a united force in the cause of helping the people of Christchurch.

They were also naturally bent on entertaining both the crowd and not least themselves with some of their antics, none more so than former Kiwi prop Jerry Seuseu who was full of show whenever he was on the field, finishing with a flourish when he scored the final try of the match (which incidentally the New Zealanders won 32-22).

An undoubted highlight was seeing the great Tawera Nikau on the field despite his artificial leg; and as he promised he would, his former Kiwi team-mate James Goulding did his best to try to take Nikau's prosthetic off with the intention of throwing it away.

There were a couple of late defections - Paul Sironen and Tonie Carroll - but a wonderful array of rugby league talent was still on show.

With a group of legends helping to bring the players together, the New Zealand Rugby League was also generously supported by a number of organisations - Air New Zealand's grabaseat with flights, SKYCITY with accommodation, the Southern Trust with venue costs, Vodafone with pre-game entertainment and also Mount Smart Stadium.

Match details:

At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

New Zealand Legends 32 (Joe Vagana, Ruben Wiki, Sam Panapa, Sean Hoppe, Dean Aflick, Jerry Seuseu tries; Olsen Filipaina conversion; Duane Mann conversion; Sam Panapa conversion; Richie Barnett conversion).
Australian Legends 22 (David Myles, Scott Hill, Billy Peden, Nathan Blacklock, John Cornwell tries; Hazem el Masri conversion).
Halftime: 18-10 New Zealand.
Crowd: 6114.

Teams:
New Zealand: Richie Barnett; Sean Hoppe, David Kidwell, Ruben Wiki (c), Sam Panapa; Olsen Filipaina, Stacey Jones; Joe Vagana, Monty Betham, Jerry Seuseu; Kurt Sorensen, Tawera Nikau; Hugh McGahan. Bench: Gary Freeman, Duane Mann, Paul Rauhihi, Logan Swann, Dean Affleck, Quentin Pongia, Awen Guttenbeil, Dean Bell, Francis Leota.
Australia: David Peachey; Hazem El Masri, David Myles, Tea Ropati, Nathan Blacklock; Scott Hill, Clayton Friend; Mark Horo, Ben Elias (c), Craig Smith; Paul Langmack, John Hopoate; Kevin Campion. Bench: Jason Death, James Goulding, Bruce McGuire, Mark Bosnich, Billy Peden, John Cornwell, Jason Williams, Alex Chan.




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