League: Kangaroos Anzac dominance continues

Australia 20
New Zealand 12

Australia's stranglehold on the Anzac test continued when they won in the first game on New Zealand soil since 1998.

That match was also the last time the Kiwis won the fixture but, while many have been relatively one-sided affairs, this one hung in the balance until 10 minutes from the end.

Only two points separated the sides for most of the second half until new Australia captain Cameron Smith burrowed over when his own grubber rebounded into his arms. It was a big play from a smart player - not for the first time in his career.

New Zealand were good but Australia were just that little bit better in everything they did and their more established combinations gave them the edge.

They might have had a couple of new players, like controversial prop James Tamou who made his debut against the country of his birth who had selected him in their train-on squad last year, but they also have a number who have played a lot together at state and international level.

It allowed them to absorb and exert pressure and they invariably took the right options.

In comparison, the Kiwis often gave away soft penalties, made silly errors or kicked the ball out on the full just as it looked like they were grabbing the initiative.

They had opened the scoring when Issac Luke slipped over from dummy half in the 12th minute after a sustained period of pressure but Australia were soon ahead 12-6 when Johnathan Thurston danced past Adam Blair a minute after Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was penalised for holding down and Greg Inglis finished off a slick passage that looked straight off the Melbourne training ground.

Teams can't afford to give Australia cheap sets and they took advantage. Their line speed was good, Smith was masterful around the ruck area and they found joy attacking down New Zealand's left edge against Johnson and Manu Vatuvei.

One thing didn't follow the script when Billy Slater was sinbinned for a professional foul, when he took out the hard-working Alex Glenn when Glenn was bearing down on a deflected grubber. But even then Australia added points with a penalty on halftime.

Johnson put his side back in the contest six minutes after the restart when he snaffled a Cooper Cronk pass with Australia hot on attack. It was a good reward for the Warriors halfback, who had a rugged introduction to test football, and he celebrated well before dotting the ball down.

He was certainly more influential than his halves partner and skipper Marshall who was sometimes good but mostly poor.

New Zealand rely a lot on passion and Johnson's try, which closed the score to 14-12, gave them another lift. They also kept to their game plan and tried to make sure they played the game at the right end of the field.

It set the game up for a tense finish until Smith settled the game and Australia closed things out expertly.

New Zealand are getting closer but still aren't close enough.

New Zealand 12 (Issac Luke, Shaun Johnson tries; Benji Marshall 2 gls) Australia 20 (Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith tries; Thurston 4 gls). HT: 6-14.

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- APNZ

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