League: Kiwis beaten by 'faultless' Kangaroos

By Michael Brown

Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Sam Kasiano of New Zealand show their dejection after the Rugby League World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia. Photo / Getty Images.
Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Sam Kasiano of New Zealand show their dejection after the Rugby League World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia. Photo / Getty Images.

As the champagne flowed for the Australian side, the tears flowed for the Kiwis after they were humbled 34-2 in this morning's World Cup final.

It brought to an end what had been a promising campaign but highlighted why Australia have been the dominant rugby league nation for some time. Even though the Kiwis won the 2008 World Cup, they could never really have claimed to be the best side around.

Read: Australia shows who's boss in dominant performance

Australia were relentless this morning. The Kiwis could have been better, and should have sent more support runners with the ball carrier and they also invited some trouble with errors and missed tackles but they were never going to beat this Australian outfit today.

"Australia's performance was nothing short of outstanding," Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney said. "We just couldn't get ourselves into the contest. The pressure they mounted, we were hanging on there.

"I thought their performance was pretty faultless. They gave us a real lesson today.

"When you turn up today and the Australian side play the way they do, we had to bring our best game today and I know we didn't do that. Australia certainly didn't allow us to play like that.

"The way they played took a lot out of us. We didn't threaten them at all with the footy in the first half, which we needed to. If we weren't going to bring our best game against Australia, then it's always going to be tough and that's as good as I've seen them play."

The Kiwis weren't helped by the fact they lost Roger Tuivasa-Sheck inside the first seven minutes. The winger had come into the game under an injury cloud, having injured his lower leg, but scans didn't reveal anything and he was cleared to play.

His World Cup final didn't last long and he was in tears as he limped off the field and down the tunnel.

Dean Whare moved to the wing, with Alex Glenn taking over in the centres, which affected the balance of the side and Australia threw plenty of traffic down New Zealand's right edge.

Kearney said it was too early to know exactly what happened to Tuivasa-Sheck but it didn't look good.

"We think there is probably a hairline fracture there," he said. "We did all of the relevant tests [last week] and there was nothing wrong with him. But in his first carry he heard a crack, which is pretty unfortunate. It does throw your lineup out when you've got to replace a winger.

"I think they would have been looking to target that edge. England had a bit of success there last week. When you replace a winger in any contest it's hard because you don't have a winger sitting on the bench. We had to shuffle lads around and put a makeshift centre out in the centres and the centre goes on the wing so, straight away, it throws that edge out a bit."

It wasn't the reason they lost, however, because Australia were exceptional. They based their campaign around defence and they have now gone 402 minutes since conceding a try.

"I'm extremely proud," Australia coach Tim Sheens said. "Our defence was great and our attitude terrific."

It also means a golden generation of Australian players have now won the last major trophy that had eluded them.

"It's a dream come true," said Kangaroos five-eighth Johnathan Thurston who was named man of the match. "To win the World Cup with your best mates, it doesn't get any better than that."

- APNZ

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