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Sam Harrold scored late for Australian Universities but it wasn’t enough to win their warm-up match against Southern Scorpions on Sunday.

Australian Universities coach Mark Gliddon is looking for some big improvement with the ball when his side takes on New Zealand Universities in the first of their two-Test series in Christchurch on Thursday.

The national tertiary side went down 22-20 to the South Island Scorpions, the senior representative side from New Zealand's southern isle on Sunday.

While the home side scored with nine minutes to go to win the match and the Australians blew a chance to score in the final minute, it was dropped ball that was the problem.

"We really need to concentrate on our ball control," said Gliddon.

"If you complete at less than 50 percent in a game of rugby league you are not going to win.

"When we had quality ball and built pressure we got results.

"That is what I will be looking for in the first Test; ball control leads to game control."

Australia led early when former Broncos under-20s centre Michael O'Keefe went over after just four minutes.

But tries to Phil Thomson and Craig Smith gave the Scorpions a 12-10 lead at half-time after Mitch Lollback had scored for the visitors.

Tama Apineru scored after the break to make it 16-10 to South Island.

Australia hit the front with tries to winger Allan Newton and back-rower Sam Harold with 15 minutes to go before Patella Tou crashed over for the game winner.

The second Test between Australian Universities and New Zealand Universities will be played at Greymouth on Sunday.

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