Australia hit top gear right from the start

Australia 26 New Zealand 12

Australia and New Zealand showed that the standard required to win the Four Nations will be high as they produced a compelling contest to open the tournament.

In front of a full house at Warrington and the watching English coaching staff, the Kangaroos demonstrated much of the relentless defence and clinical finishing that makes them tournament favourites.

But the way the Kiwis, victorious over Australia in their last two major finals, fought back to within four points in the second half marked them out as real dangers as well. Steve McNamara and his assistants went away with plenty to think about.

New Zealand were beaten 40-6 the last time these two sides met two weeks ago. They got off to a dreadful start that day, so it was doubly important that they began well at the Halliwell Jones.

Instead, they gave Australia an extra set of tackles when Simon Mannering hung on to Cameron Smith in the tackle. Almost inevitably, they were punished when Matt Scott rumbled over from close range. The Kiwis had a good 25 minutes after that dismal start, spending much of it attacking the Aussie line without ever quite finding the precision to get over.

Again almost inevitably, Australia showed them how it was done, although it took the arrival from the bench of Tony Williams to do it. Billy Slater, Chris Lawrence and Darius Boyd handled beautifully down the left, Johnathon Thurston kicked and then retrieved the loose ball and Williams, formerly a winger but now a menacing presence in the second row, powered his way over the try-line.

As half-time approached, the hulking Williams broke through again, this time passing to Thurston when he could almost certainly have scored himself. Thurston rolled over to touch down but could not add a third conversion.

Jason Nightingale's break and inside pass could have produced a Kiwi riposte, but the ball would not quite stick in the hands of the supporting Kevin Locke. They did make their breakthrough after 47 minutes, when Kieran Foran's kick caused confusion and Nightingale swooped on the loose ball. Benji Marshall's conversion reduced the gap to 10 points, further eaten into when Kalifa Faifai Loa charged over after fine attacking work by Nightingale and Gerard Beale.

Jolted to attention, Australia went up a gear, with Thurston and Lawrence combining to send Boyd in. The Kiwis continued to have their chances, but were often guilty of naivety near the try-line, as when Beale was forced into touch. They almost manufactured an acrobatic try for Locke, but Nightingale's feet were on the dead-ball line.

With four minutes to play, Australia made sure of victory by a slightly flattering scoreline when Akuila Uate latched on to Billy Slater's kick.

Australia: Slater; Uate, Tonga, Lawrence, Boyd; Lockyer, Thurston; Scott, C.Smith, Gallen, Lewis, Thaiday, Watmough. Substitutes used: Shillington, Cronk, Williams, Galloway.

New Zealand: Locke; Loa, Brown, Beale, Nightingale; Marshall, Foran; Matulino, Luke, McKendry, Manu, Mannering, J.Smith. Substitutes used: Leuluai, Glenn, Wharea-Hargreaves, Moimoi.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London