New Zealand 2 Australia 34 match report: Aussies rout Kiwis to gain revenge for 2008 Rugby League World Cup final defeat
Two tries apiece from Brett Morris and Billy Slater plus another from Cooper Cronk see the Kangaroos ease to World Cup glory
Saturday 30 November 2013
It was payback time for Billy Slater as he helped Australia regain their world crown five years on from experiencing his greatest humiliation.
The Melbourne Storm full-back's careless offload which gifted a crucial try to Benji Marshall was the abiding memory of the Kangaroos' shock 34-20 defeat to New Zealand in Brisbane in 2008.
Slater redeemed himself in spectacular fashion at Old Trafford with a brace of tries as normal service was resumed with Australia cruising to a 34-2 World Cup final victory - the most one-sided in history, eclipsing their 40-12 win over the Kiwis in 2000.
The Kangaroos ran in five tries and man of the match Johnathan Thurston kicked seven goals from as many attempts but, more impressively, they kept their tryline intact for the fifth successive match.
Only England managed to score tries against Tim Sheens' team, who achieved a feat that even eluded the 1982 Invincibles
It was all something of an anti-climax as the curtain fell on the 14th and most successful World Cup in front of sell-out crowd of 74,468 - a new record for a rugby league international.
Perhaps New Zealand had expended all their energy on their emotional last-gasp semi-final victory over England for they were never in contention despite the urgings of the vast majority of the crowd.
They began nervously, with Jesse Bromwich knocking on inside the first set of six tackles, and they lost leading tryscorer Roger Tuivasa-Sheck after only seven minutes with a recurrence of a calf injury.
Thurston gave his side the lead with an early penalty which was cancelled out on 15 minutes by Shaun Johnson but that was as good as it got for the holders.
Slater, who returned to the side after missing the semi-finals with a knee injury, fittingly scored the first try of the match.
He outjumped Kieran Foran to reclaim the ball from Thurston's crossfield kick and stretched out to plant the ball over the line for his first try on 18 minutes.
New Zealand had a let-off when Cooper Cronk was denied a try by video referee Ashley Klein for an obstruction but he made no mistake on 29 minutes when he swooped on a kick from winger Darius Boyd to touch down.
Thurston added the goal, breaking fellow Australian Mick Cronin's international points record of 309, and increased the Kangaroos' lead to 16-2 by half-time with a second penalty.
New Zealand's only tryscoring chance of the first half came when Vatuvei managed to gather Johnson's high kick but he was tackled just short of the line, and there was no way back when the Kangaroos scored again with a minute of the restart.
Thurston was once more the architect, breaking through the first line of defence to free left winger Darius Boyd and Slater was in support to grab his second try, his 22nd in 24 appearances.
The Australians were simply irresistible and it was no surprise when they added another try, with right winger Brett Morris taking an audacious offload from Josh Papalii to race down the touchline and following up two kicks with a spectacular dive.
There was a moment of alarm when Morris crashed into an advertising hoarding, recalling memories of the incident early in the tournament in which team-mate Luke Lewis suffered a dislocated shoulder, but he was able to continue after treatment.
Instead it was the Kiwis who were left with more wounds to lick as Hayne intercepted a pass from Sonny Bill Williams to send Morris over for his second try on 71 minutes.
Thurston maintained his impeccable record with the boot to land his seventh goal and take his points tally to 14.
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