Aus­tralia crush NZ in Four Na­tions final

Kuwait Times - - SPOT-ON KESSIE DENTS ROMA HOPES AT ATALANTA -

LIVER­POOL:

Aus­tralia de­mol­ished New Zealand 34-8 in yes­ter­day’s Four Na­tions series final at Liver­pool’s An­field sta­dium to avenge their loss to their regional ri­vals in the 2014 de­cider. Josh Du­gan scored two tries and Johnathan Thurston kicked three con­ver­sions and two penal­ties as Aus­tralia claimed their fourth vic­tory over New Zealand in 2016.

It leaves Aus­tralia as world cham­pi­ons, Four Na­tions hold­ers and the num­ber one team in the world.

“It was a goal of ours to win the Four Na­tions, so that is a big plus for us,” said Aus­tralia coach Mal Meninga.

“We have built as the games have pro­gressed and that is a coach’s dream. “They’re one of the best groups we’ve seen in in­ter­na­tional rugby league, so we’re lucky in that sense, but you’ve still got to build a team and every­body did their job to­day.”

Aus­tralia started as strong favourites, hav­ing won all three of their group­stage games, while New Zealand were held to a shock draw by rank out­siders Scot­land. Hosts Eng­land were the other team. New Zealand coach David Kid­well said: “We spoke at half-time about get­ting our com­ple­tion rate up.

“I wish we’d done that in the first half, but there were en­cour­ag­ing signs that we can com­pete when we do that.”

Blake Fer­gu­son needed just three min­utes to open the scor­ing for the Kan­ga­roos and New Zealand crum­bled there­after. Du­gan fol­lowed over twice, ei­ther side of a Trent Mer­rin score, and with Thurston’s kick­ing as­sured, Aus­tralia took in a 24-0 lead at the break. Aus­tralia’s pace slowed in the sec­ond half, de­spite Dar­ius Boyd’s try, as the game am­bled to an in­evitable con­clu­sion.

To their credit, the Ki­wis re­grouped through a Jor­dan Kahu dou­ble, but Boyd Cord­ner had the last say for the vic­tors.

BOYD BAR­RELS THROUGH

As well as a third Four Na­tions ti­tle in seven years, Aus­tralia had eyes on the Ki­wis’ num­ber one world rank­ing.

In front of An­field’s famed Kop in the first half, Aus­tralia looked ev­ery bit the world’s best.

Fol­low­ing a first-minute scrum be­neath the posts, Meninga’s side seized the ini­tia­tive with Fer­gu­son go­ing over, un­chal­lenged, on the right flank. Thurston, in his last ap­pear­ance on English soil in a Kan­ga­roos jersey, added the con­ver­sion.

On the quar­ter-hour, cen­tre Du­gan burst through a be­lea­guered New Zealand rear­guard af­ter tak­ing Boyd’s pass to stretch the Australian ad­van­tage. De­spite miss­ing the re­sult­ing con­ver­sion Thurston soon tapped over an easy penalty to put the Aussies 12 points in front be­fore the first quar­ter was up. They went over again al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter, Mer­rin this time tak­ing ad­van­tage af­ter New Zealand had cheaply given up pos­ses­sion. Aus­tralia showed no signs of re­lent­ing. Thurston slot­ted an­other sim­ple penalty be­fore the 33-year-old’s deft kick set up Du­gan’s sec­ond. Thurston hit the post with his kick, but it was hardly a blem­ish in a first half that ended with Aus­tralia a mam­moth 24 points to the good. A promis­ing New Zealand start to the sec­ond half came to a halt through an­other sloppy penalty be­fore Aus­tralia flyer Boyd, spot­ting a sliver of space, bar­relled through and over the try-line.

Some of the loud­est cheers of the af­ter­noon were re­served for Kahu in the 57th minute as Kevin Proc­tor’s smart off­load re­leased the full-back for New Zealand’s first score.

Ja­son Tau­malolo then crashed past two de­fend­ers and the ball made its way to Kahu again to touch down over the white­wash, but Cord­ner took on Thurston’s pass to add more Australian gloss.

—AFP

LIVER­POOL: Aus­tralia’s hooker and cap­tain Cameron Smith (C) holds the tro­phy af­ter win­ning the rugby league Four Na­tions Final match be­tween Aus­tralia and New Zealand at An­field in Liver­pool, north west Eng­land yes­ter­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.