The Australian Kangaroos did enough to hold the New Zealand Kiwis at bay at Ricoh Arena in Coventry, taking the win 14 points to eight in the fourth game of the Four Nations tournament.
Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis pulled off some big plays in defence for the green and golds on their way to their second win of the tournament from two starts, sealing their spot in the Four Nations Final in a fortnight’s time.
Inglis pulled off a huge hit on Jordan Kahu and a try-saving ankle tap on Jordan Rapana in the first half. He followed that up in the second half with a match-winning tackle with Darius Boyd on Shaun Johnson, holding him up over the line to prevent the crafty halfback from scoring a try in the penultimate play of the game.
The Australians took a little while to warm up their engines but in the tenth minute of play the ball was swung wide to the right with Blake Ferguson touching down in the right hand corner.
Four minutes later, Johnathan Thurston scored a good team try following some fantastic lead up work from Cowboys team mate Michael Morgan. Thurston converted his own try to give Australia a 10-nil lead.
A couple of big defensive plays from Greg Inglis highlighted the next ten minutes of play, pulling off the crunching tackle on Kahu followed by the long chase and ankle tap on Rapana which certainly saved a try.
The Australians kept the Kiwis under pressure for the remainder of the half but an improved effort and increase in intensity from New Zealand held the Kangaroos at bay for the remainder of the half.
With a 10-0 lead at half time, the Kangaroos were in control, but the New Zealanders were improving as the game progressed and the Australians would need to kick up another gear in the second 40 minutes to seal the win.
New Zealand made the most of a positive start to the second half with Solomone Kata scoring in the left hand corner in the 49th minute, awarded the try by the video referee. That four-pointer reduced the deficit to a converted try.
The Australians kicked a penalty goal in the 55th minute, with Thurston knocking the ball over from ten metres out in front of the posts, extending the green and gold’s lead to eight points.
Another fifth tackle penalty conceded by the Kiwis and another penalty goal to Thurston gave the Kangaroos a ten point lead with nine minutes to play.
The Kiwis would give themselves a chance when some Shaun Johnson skill led to a Jordan Rapana try four minutes from full time, reducing the deficit to six points.
Johnson went close to possibly levelling the scores in the final minute of play, but again it was Inglis, this time with the help of Darius Boyd, killing off the Kiwis’ chances by holding the halfback up over the line.
That tackle sealed the Kangaroos’ place in the Four Nations Final to be played in a fortnight’s time. However, first Australia need to get past England in their final round match of the Four Nations in London next Monday morning AEDST.
Australia 14 (Blake Ferguson, Johnathan Thurston tries; Johnathan Thurston 3 goals)
New Zealand 8 (Solomone Kata, Jordan Rapana tries)