Johns inspires ominous Australia

Australia 48 New Zealand 6
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The Independent Online

Australia handed the Kiwis one of their heaviest defeats in almost a century of international competition here in Sydney yesterday. An ominous warning to Great Britain ahead of the forthcoming Ashes series.

Australia ran in nine tries to one to register their second biggest total over New Zealand since the sides first locked horns in 1908. They were four short of the all-time record number of points, set three years ago, and the 42-point winning margin was their third biggest in their long rivalry.

"This is a quality side, in any code of football. Once we get on a roll, we're very hard to stop," the Australia coach, Chris Anderson, said. "They struggled to stay with us, but any side would struggle when we play like that."

His opposite number, Daniel Anderson, said: "It was an ambush. It doesn't do anything for international rugby league. The Australians were just too good, but I think it would be better to have a series. Something's got to give somewhere if you want to have international football."

The only blight on the win was Gordon Tallis's knee injury after 12 minutes, but brilliantly marshalled by captain Andrew Johns, the Kangaroos scored five tries in the first half to lead 30-0 at half-time and added four more in the second half.

Matt Sing, Jamie Lyon and Brent Tate scored two tries each while Willie Mason, Shannon Hegarty and Craig Wing collected one apiece. Johns kicked six conversions.

New Zealand's points came from hooker Richard Swain, who scored a try against the run of play early in the second half and converted it himself.

Sing scored the opening try in the 15th minute when he crossed in the right corner, and the floodgates immediately opened up. Tate scored five minutes later when he won the race to a perfectly timed chip-kick from Johns and then Lyon scored the first of his two first-half tries when he sprinted 55 metres in a spectacular weaving run.

Mason made it four tries in 18 minutes and Lyon grabbed his second on the stroke of half-time when he finished off a sweeping backline move to stroll over near the posts. Johns converted for the fifth time to give Australia their huge half-time lead.

Tate ran the length of the field to score his second before Swain scored New Zealand's only try, charging on to a pass from Monty Betham.

Sing grabbed a second try when he skirted the defence in the right corner, then Hegarty capped his first Test appearance with a try on the left side. Craig Wing finished the rout with a try four minutes from the end.

Australia: Tries: Sing 2, Tate 2, Lyon 2, Mason, Hegarty, Wing; Goals Johns 6. New Zealand: Try Swain; Goal Swain.

Australia: Minichiello; Sing, Tate, Lyon, Hegarty; Timmins, Johns; Bailey, Buderus, Webcke, Tallis, Carlaw, Ricketson. Substitutes used: Fletcher, Wing, Mason, Civoniceva.

New Zealand: Vaealiki; Utai, Vagana, Toopi, Meli; Talau, Jones; Rauhihi, Swain, Wiki, Kearney, Galuvao, Guttenbeil. Substitutes used: Betham, Seu Seu, Puletua, Swann.

Referee: B Harrigan (Australia).

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