Kiwis into final as Australia beat England

By Michael Burgess in Manchester

England's Jermaine McGillvary, center, is tackled by Australia's Greg Inglis, left, and Blake Ferguson. Photo / AP
England's Jermaine McGillvary, center, is tackled by Australia's Greg Inglis, left, and Blake Ferguson. Photo / AP

David Kidwell and the Kiwis will be a very relieved group. The New Zealand team is into their third Four Nations final, after the Kangaroos took care of England 36-18 on Monday morning.

It's a fortunate escape for the Kiwis, who had put themselves in a precarious position following their shock 18-18 draw with Scotland on Saturday.

Even Australian coach Mal Meninga admitted the Kiwis were "lucky", following the result on Monday.

There will be all kinds of debate about whether New Zealand deserve to be in the tournament decider, but the fact is their 17-16 win over England in Huddersfield was the pivotal result, as it was always likely to be.

And while the Kiwis have worn a lot of criticism for their abject display in Workington, the result in London on Monday helps to put things in perspective.

England played well - really well - for periods in the first half and were unlucky to be behind on the scoreboard going into halftime. But the Kangaroos, as they usually do, lifted noticeably in the second half and the Lions couldn't stay with them.

In contrast, the Kiwis didn't play particularly well in Coventry - especially in the first half - but they found a way to stay with Australia. They defended with grit and heart, and came close to stealing a draw in the final minute.

The current Kangaroos are a formidable team - as they showed at London Stadium on Monday - so the perhaps the Kiwis effort in Coventry needs to be seen in a different light.

If they can put the Scotland effort behind them and regroup mentally, there will be some hope, albeit quite small, for next Monday's game at Anfield. A Kiwis win wouldn't rank with some of the great trans-tasman upsets of the past - like 1987, 1991 and 2003 - but it wouldn't be far away.

Autex - Proud sponsors of New Zealand rugby league since 1981

- NZ Herald

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