The Australian Kangaroos put on a dominant performance, beating New Zealand 34-8 in the Four Nations final at Anfield.
It only took the Aussies three minutes to post first points of the game with a simple short-side play off an attacking scrum. Winger Blake Ferguson planted the ball down in the corner untouched. Johnathan Thurston slotted the sideline conversion to make the score 6-0.
Kangaroo fullback Darius Boyd earned his second try-assist of the day in the 15th minute putting centre Josh Dugan into space. Dugan dived over the line to take his side’s lead to 10-0.
A penalty in front of the posts gifted Thurston another two points taking Australia’s lead to two converted tries.
Aussie skipper Cameron Smith set up their next four-pointer in the 21st minute. Smith held a pass up from dummy-half to lock Trent Merrin, who barged his way over the line. Thurston successfully converted the Merrin try to make the score 18-0.
A clumsy high tackle by Kiwi Martin Taupau in the 29th minute gave Thurston another easy penalty goal to increase his side’s lead by another two points.
A determined Dugan scored his second try of the day off a perfectly weighted Thurston grubber kick. Dugan beat opposing centre Solomone Kata to the ball and planted the ball down before the dead-ball line.
Australia went into the break 24-0 up.
The Kangaroos came out after halftime and picked up where they left off. It only took five minutes for the Aussies to find the try line again. Boyd sliced through the defensive line and grazed the ball on the try line to extend Australia’s lead to 28-0.
Kiwi winger Jordan Rapana copped a sickening stray knee in an attempted tackle on Kangaroo centre Greg Inglis in the 50th minute. Rapana was forced from the field and wouldn’t return for the remainder of the game.
It took New Zealand 55 minutes to finally get points on the scoreboard. Fullback Jordan Kahu dived over the line to make the score 28-4.
Kahu was over again in the 68th minute showing some New Zealand fight. Kahu beat four defenders to slam the ball down and cut the Aussies lead to 28-8.
The away side would have the final say with second-rower Boyd Cordner crashing over in the 73rd minute. Cordner ran a superb inside line and hit a short pass off Thurston, carrying two defenders over the line and still managing to get the ball down. Thurston successfully converted the try and pushed the final score to 34-8.
Australia remained undefeated for the entire Four Nations tournament and their latest win has gained them the world number one rank in Rugby League. – Paul Burns
Photo of Cameron Smith and his team lifting the Four Nations trophy from the Australian Kangaroos Facebook page.