Kiwis 22
Kangaroos 18

If the World Cup final was the end of the road, this is the start of something. And it could be something big.

The Kiwis could have won by 20 points, such was their dominance. Sure, the stars will return for the Kangaroos but New Zealand fans will feel like this is the beginning of a golden era.

The 22-18 victory was the Kiwis' first win against Australia on home soil since 2003 and only the second time they have won consecutive tests against the Kangaroos in 60 years.


Read: Johnson comes of age

It was a heart-stopping finish - just what the tournament deserved - but it never should have been that close. As is often the case, the Kiwis couldn't shut the door on the Kangaroos.

And maybe this marks the arrival of Shaun Johnson. He had an epic night and kick-started the team out of a slump in the second half. His work was on the back of another magnificent Kiwis forward effort.

It was a terrific match of great intensity. Midway through the first half, David Klemmer came up with the biggest hit by an Australian in this country since Wally Lewis crunched Darrell Williams in 1989, while Martin Taupau left bodies strewn all over the turf with some of his charges from deep before he left the field early in the second half with a neck injury.

The Kiwis had to recover from another poor start. Two dubious penalties defused some early Kangaroos pressure, as did a call by referee Phil Bentham to reverse an Australian line drop-out. From the following set, Johnson and Dean Whare got in each other's way off a Cooper Cronk bomb, the rebound accepted by Michael Jennings who dived over the line.

It was a setback and for a while Bentham brought back unwanted memories of Graham Ainui in the 1988 World Cup final as he allowed the Kangaroos plenty of latitude in the ruck.

A Shaun Kenny-Dowall bust eventually led to Jason Nightingale doing another trademark forward roll in the right-hand corner, for his fifth try of the tournament.

Johnson - after a nervous start - was finding his range. Josh Mansour was tormented by some huge bombs and the Kiwis swept forward in a black wave. The second Kiwis try was a beauty. Johnson's sidestepping in traffic was majestic and the way Manu Vatuvei - who hasn't always been known for his sure grip - picked up a 20-metre pass on the half-volley, before crashing over, made you realise this could be a special night.


A third opportunity - after Kieran Foran collected a Johnson chip - might have iced the game in the shadows of halftime, but Lewis Brown's pass found Australian hands.

Unfortunately for the 25,183 crowd, all that good work was undone when the Kangaroos scored a soft try within three minutes of the restart, Sione Mata'utia crossing after Daly Cherry-Evans waltzed through.

Johnson then lit up the night with a stunning try. No one who was there will forget the way he sliced through and then burned Greg Inglis.

The home side lifted from there, and Vatuvei steam-rolled over again soon afterwards, becoming the leading Kiwis try-scorer of all time. Johnson missed both conversions, which would have sealed the game before Ben Hunt's 76th-minute try ensured a nervous finish.

Kiwis 22 (J. Nightingale, M. Vatuvei 2, S. Johnson tries; S. Johnson 3 goals)
Kangaroos 18 (M. Jennings, S. Mata'utia, B. Hunt tries; C.Smith 3 goals)
Half-time: 14-6