Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

How the Kiwis can make the Four Nations final

New Zealand's Adam Blair is brought down by the Australia's Sam Thaiday. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Adam Blair is brought down by the Australia's Sam Thaiday. Photo / AP

The Kiwis are still well placed to make the Four Nations final - despite their 14-8 loss to the Kangaroos last Sunday - but it is by no means guaranteed.

Just like in 2014, the two participants in the tournament decider won't be known until the conclusion of the final round robin match on Sunday (Monday NZT).

Australia, barring an improbable scoreline at Olympic stadium, look to have one spot all but sewn up, after winning their first two matches.

The other place is a shootout between England and New Zealand, which may come down to points differential.

Listed below are some of the possible permutations.

1. Kiwis beat Scotland, Australia defeats England

Australia and New Zealand qualify.

2. Kiwis beat Scotland, England defeats Australia

This scenario will depend on points differential. England is currently ahead of the Kiwis on for and against by 30 points, thanks to their 38-12 win over Scotland on Sunday. So for example, if the Kiwis defeat Scotland by a margin of 25 points but England trump Australia by two points, then England would progress to the final at New Zealand's expense. But if the Kiwis beat Scotland by a margin of 40 points and England have a close four point win over the Kangaroos, then New Zealand would progress.

3. Kiwis beat Scotland, England draw with Australia.

New Zealand progress.

4. Kiwis lose to Scotland, England lose to Australia.

England reaches the final on superior points differential.

Can Australia miss the final?
Yes, but it's unlikely. Australia would need to lose to England by 12 points, as well as the Kiwis beating Scotland by a margin of 42 points or more. That would leave all three teams on four points, with England and New Zealand having superior points differentials to Australia.

Can England beat Australia?
It's not out of the question, as they will have everything to play for and a big crowd at the Olympic Stadium behind them. The last time the two teams met it (in the 2014 Four Nations) it was a narrow 16-12 win to the Kangaroos in Melbourne, with a couple of controversial refereeing decisions in the match going Australia's way. Their previous encounter was a 28-20 win to the Kangaroos at the 2013 World Cup. However, the Lions haven't beaten Australia since 2006, a famous 23-12 victory in Sydney.

What is the optimal Kiwis approach?
They have to win in Workington on Friday night (Saturday morning NZT), and win well. A big margin will put more pressure on England, to not just beat the Kangaroos, but win by a certain number of points. They last met Scotland at the 2013 World Cup, banking a 40-4 win in Leeds.

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- NZ Herald

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