Five tries after half-time saw off the plucky New Zealanders in front of 25,628 at Canberra Stadium as the metronomic Australians weathered a Kiwi storm before striking with multiple blows that eventually left the visitors beaten, but unbowed.
The Kangaroos justified their status as hot favourites by crossing for the opening try of the match after just five minutes. Cooper Cronk ran from dummy half before offloading to Matthew Scott and the big forward showed neat handling skills in returning the pass inside for Cronk to scoot away and cross next to the posts, leaving Cameron Smith with the formality of the conversion.
Kangaroos powerhouse Sam Thaiday had a try disallowed as winger Brett Morris was correctly adjudged to have knocked on. But it was the underdogs who perhaps felt most aggrieved having three scores disallowed in the opening half.
The Kiwis' forward momentum deserved some reward and they got it after the half-time siren. On the last tackle Jason Nightingale cut back infield and found Frank Pritchard whose grubber should have been tidied up by Billy Slater.
The Australian made a howler in anticipating the bounce, though, and Josh Hoffman pounced for a maiden international try. Shaun Johnson added a sublime conversion from out wide to tie the scores at the break, but Australia responded after the break and Greg Inglis dived on the loose ball to claim the four points and his 20th try for his country. Smith slotted the extras with a minimum of fuss.
After that the brave Kiwi resistance crumbled as the Kangaroos bagged four tries in a scintillating nine-minute period. First, Justin Hodges stole the ball off Jesse Bromwich in midfield following a stunning burst down the middle from Luke Lewis that had ended with New Zealand recovering possession before Hodges intervened.
From the subsequent play-the-ball Australia moved up a gear and spread the ball to the right flank where Slater fed Morris who crashed over.
Lewis was next on the scoresheet, before Darius Boyd collected a dab through from Jonathan Thurston to slide over in the left corner for the fifth Australian try to cap a sensational attacking spell.
There was more to come as Hodges got in on the act, collecting his own kick through to canter over behind the posts, making Smith's fourth successful kick of the evening a formality, as Australia ended with a flourish. A late score from Pritchard reduced the arrears but did little to stop Australia from a dominating second-half display.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cameron Smith
- Cooper Cronk