Australia: 32 (Tries: Billy Slater x2, Brett Morris x2, Cooper Cronk; Goals: Johnathan Thurston x5, 1x penalty)
New Zealand 2 (Goals: Shaun Johnson, 1 penalty)
Only a handful of players who took to the pitch at Old Trafford this morning were on the field in Brisbane five years ago for the last Rugby League World Cup final. But half a decade on, all men who laced up their boots today remembered exactly what happened on that Queensland evening that shocked the sporting world.
A calm and collected Australian Kangaroos side, who’d gone from strength to strength all tournament long, sang Advance Australia Fair just metres away from the pumped up, on-edge New Zealand Kiwis. The men in the black jerseys, who’d had a fairly solid cup journey to this point, had everything to lose. Right after kick off, it looked like the match was going to be a ripsnorter.
As fullback Billy Slater tore off after a sky-high bomb kick, he ran into Kiwis five-eighth Kieran Foran and took what looked like a dive worthy of an Olympic games medal. The match referee ruled Foran at fault and his opposite number Johnathan Thurston slotted a penalty. Minutes later, the Kiwis’ game and morale took a huge hit when right winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck went down with a troubled leg. He left the field minutes later.
Panthers centre Dean Whare was pushed out to the edge and big Bronco Alex Glenn moved into the centre.
Eels skipper Jarryd Hayne went down minutes later after tackling Kiwis and Warriors skipper Simon Mannering near the goal-line. A bruising encounter it was shaping to be. However, Hayne gingerly got to his feet and carried on. Heart rates on both sides increased even more when Billy Slater bolted through the defence to score.
Following a Shaun Johnson penalty, hooker Issac Luke lunged at Cooper Cronk on the try-line, managing to prevent the Melbourne Storm and Queensland Maroons halfback from scoring. The Kiwis began, for the first and only time in the match, to look alive. It didn’t last long. Cronk struck back a few minutes later and scored Australia’s second try.
The half-time pep talk from the Kiwis’ staff was no doubt hard and heavy, but it didn’t manage to lift the side enough to slow the Australian onslaught. Billy Slater nabbed another try when the final half was barely underway. The Kangaroos slowly but surely upped the intensity against the gutsy yet weary Kiwi outfit. The bomb kicks went up a long way and the green and gold jumpers were far more successful in retaining and defusing them. Not much was looking up for New Zealand, even less so when Brett Morris scooted off to notch up another four pointer. This really was the final nail in the coffin for the defending champions.
Player of the Match
Johnathan Thurston. The official callers got this one right. Slippery on attack and deadly with the boot. Quite possible a future immortal.
New Zealand were thumped by a clinical and disciplined Australian side who executed planned moves and set pieces and took risks when they needed to. Although the Kangaroos were certainly the better side on the day, a few close calls with destiny didn’t go the Kiwis’ way. These were only drowned out by the rampaging Australians. The Kiwi forward pack may see a few changes for the next ANZAC Test when the black jerseys line up for another go with their respected, yet fierce rivals. The Australian Kangaroos are now World Champions once again. They played like they wanted it just that bit more, and they earned a well-deserved first place at the tournament. Advance Australia Fair.
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