Rugby League: How the Kiwis can beat Australia

By Michael Burgess in Coventry

The NZ Kiwis perform the Haka. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
The NZ Kiwis perform the Haka. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

It's never easy beating the Kangaroos.

Despite their recent run of success, the Kiwis have still only tasted victory over Australia four times this decade.

And England have been winless against the Kangaroos since 2006, an unprecedented run in their history.

So, it will be an uphill battle as always today in Coventry, but the below are keys if the Kiwis are going to enjoy a famous night against Australia.

1. Start well
The Kangaroos, like the All Blacks, are great front runners. They love to get early points and then slip into their familiar game plans and structures. But they can be rattled, and like any sports team, don't like being under scoreboard pressure. The Kiwis have to make an early impression and get some dominance in the first 20 minutes, something they were unable to do in either Perth or Huddersfield.

2. Defence
It almost goes without saying, but the Kiwis' defence has got to be near perfect on Sunday morning. Both in terms of intimidation and winning the battle at the ruck, and also the structure that will allow them to limit the opportunities for Australia on the outside. In the Kiwis last four victories over Australia they have limited the Kangaroos to 12, 12, 18 and 12 points respectively.

3. Kicking game
The men in black and white will have to at least gain parity in the territorial battle with the boot. Australia will always have the advantage, with Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and James Maloney to reel off swathes of territory with their kicking games. But Shaun Johnson - and to a lesser extent Issac Luke - have to find their range to give the Kiwis a chance.

4. Target Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson
The Kangaroos don't have many obvious weaknesses, but the right edge pairing of Dugan and Ferguson is one that might be exploited. Dugan is not a natural centre - and struggles with the finer points of the position - while Ferguson is a great attacker but not so comfortable in defence.

5. Protect Shaun Johnson
If the Kiwis are to fire in Coventry, they need Shaun Johnson to have one of his special games, like we saw in the Four Nations final in Wellington in 2014 and the Anzac test in Brisbane in 2015. But he'll struggle if he gets isolated in defence, as happened in Perth when the Kangaroos ran traffic at him all afternoon and he had to make 34 tackles. The Kiwis have to find a way of protecting Johnson - with the edge back rowers and centres shouldering the defensive load - so he can focus on his main responsibilities.

Autex - Proud sponsors of New Zealand rugby league since 1981

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 03 Dec 2016 12:05:22 Processing Time: 479ms