New Zealand were unchanged from the side who were comprehensively beaten last weekend as they hosted an Australian side at the FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton.
Australia made two changes with Payne Haas and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui in place of Jake Trbojevic and Cam Murray and were strong favourites with the bookies to pick up the trophy, despite a five year drought for the Kangaroos against the Kiwi’s in New Zealand.
The pre-match expectation was for a much closer affair than last week’s one-sided encounter.
Just like last week, both sides made nervy starts to the game with uncharacteristic errors. But the opening try was delicious with New Zealand speed killing the Aussie defence, Ronaldo Mulitalo taking a Brown looping miss-out pass to dive in at the corner. Jamayne Isaako added the conversion from the touchline for a 6-0 home lead after sixteen minutes.
Over the next quarter of an hour the game turned into the ‘Mulitalo’ show as he made breaks and put in some sensational hits in defence to frustrate Australia.
With six minutes of the half remaining, the Kiwis were in again, This time with fast hands to the right putting Isaako over in the corner off delightful Charnze Nicole-Klokstad pass.The Kiwi winger added the conversion to his try for 12-0, the Aussies looking a clear second best after a very disappointing first half.
With seven minutes on the second half clock, Kotoni Staggs put the ball to ground on his own twenty and on the first set the Kiwis were in again with Isaako somehow managing to force the ball into the ground, a millimetre from the whitewash. This time he pushed his conversion across the face of the goal.
On the hour mark Matt Timoko ripped through the Australian defence with speed on the angle to cross in the corner but circle behind the posts to give Isaako a simple conversion for 22-0, New Zealand putting in a near perfect performance.
An obstruction penalty on sixty-seven allowed Isaako another two-pointer for a twenty-four to nil lead. Australia needing five scores with just twelve minutes remaining and not looking as though they would get over the whitewash if you gave them another eighty.
Nine minutes from time, Griffin Neame shrugged off two weak Aussie tackles to stretch and ground under the sticks. Isaako added a simple conversion for a stunning 30-0 scoreline.
A fabulous New Zealand performance to lift the trophy and it will be the nature of the win, more than the win itself, which will please the coaching staff and supporters. Australia were a poor imitation of the side which won comfortably last week, and they will return home embarrassed at how they performed in the final of the competition, and at having crashed to the largest ever international loss.
New Zealand: Nicoll-Klokstad, Mulitalo (T), Timoko (T), Manu, Isaako (2T, 5G), Brown, Hughes, Fisher-Harris, Foran, Leota, Papali’i, Nikora, Tapine. Subs: Brown, Asofa-Solomona, Neame (T), Thompson. 18th Man: Whyte.
Australia: Tedesco, Edwards, Tabuai-Fidow, Staggs, Holmes, Munster, Cherry-Evans, Haas, Hunt, Fa’asuamaleaui, Martin, Cotter, Yeo. Subs: Grant, Collins, Carrigan, Hynes. 18th Man: Flegler.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0 : HT: 16-0, 20-0, 22-0, 24-0, 28-0, 30-0 :FT.
Lead Exchanges: Kiwis.
Referee: Adam Gee.