Shaun Johnson will have special support in the Four Nations final on Sunday (Monday NZT), with girlfriend Kayla Cullen making the journey to Europe for the match.

The Silver Ferns player had booked tickets for the trip some time ago, but had them on hold, pending the result of the Australia's clash with England on Monday morning.

With the Kangaroos winning that match 36-18 - to eliminate the Lions and confirm the Kiwis' place in the final - Cullen can now go ahead with her travel arrangements.

Cullen is one of a number of partners, friends and family of Kiwis players that had faced a nervous wait in New Zealand over the weekend. Like the players, they knew that the outcome of 80 minutes at London's Olympic Stadium was make or break for their trip; either the Kiwis would be coming home, under a considerable cloud, or they would have a chance for a third Four Nations title.


The latter wasn't assured until early in the second half on Monday (NZT), as English put up a good fight in the first half. They opened the scoring with a Jermaine McGillvary try, made good momentum through the middle of the field and restricted the Australians to one try with some impressive goal line defence.

But the game changed dramatically in the first 20 minutes after halftime, with Greg Inglis, Matt Scott and Josh Dugan all crossing for the Kangaroos in a withering burst.

From there the match was gone, and the Kiwis could start planning for their third Four Nations final since 2010.

It seems like an almost impossible mission, but the Kiwis might take some solace from similar situations in 2008 and 2010, when heavily favoured Australian sides were upset by New Zealand in tournament deciders.

The Kiwis will also have the advantage of a greater preparation time. They have been able to focus on rest and recovery since Saturday morning, and have had almost 48 hours more preparation time for the final than Australia.

But all that will be negligible, if both sides continue their form of the past month. The Kangaroos have been clinical, ruthless and fully focused for 80 minutes of every match since Perth, which has shown in their results.

In contrast, the Kiwis have been patchy in the extreme, which periods of quality interspersed with passages of below par play. They've been unconvincing on attack and flaky on defence.

A lot of work is needed, with not much time to do it.

The Kiwis continue their preparations in Manchester over the next 24 hours, before transferring to their Liverpool on Tuesday morning (UK time), where they will be based until the final.

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