Kearney admits Kiwis outclassed in final
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney admitted that his side needed to be at their very best if they wanted to keep hold of the Rugby League World Cup - and after their 34-2 defeat confirmed that they weren't.
New Zealand failed to get into the game, they made too many mistakes that the Kangaroos fed off, while they weren't able to cope with Australia's clinical and brutal attack and it resulted in the most one-sided World Cup final since the inception of the tournament in 1954.
"Australia's performance was nothing short of outstanding," Kearney said afterwards.
"We just couldn't get ourselves into the contest.
"The pressure that they mounted, we were hanging on there, but in some of their last tackle finishes they came up with the points, particularly in that first half.
"I thought their performance was pretty faultless to be fair, they gave us a real lesson today."
Kearney felt that with the way the Kangaroos played, there was little the Kiwis could have done to get a victory.
"When you turn up today and the Australian side play the way they do, we had to bring our best game and I know we didn't do that," he said.
"The way they played took a lot out of us. We didn't threaten them at all with the footy in the first half, which we needed to do.
"If we weren't going to bring our best game against Australia, then it's always going to be tough and that's as good as I've seen them play."
The Kiwis got off to a disastrous start with star winger, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck having to leave the game after just a few minutes. Against England in last weekend's game it was feared he had broken his leg. He had scans which didn't show up any damage, but clearly there was and it was to the detriment of the team.
"We think there is probably a hairline fracture there, we did all of the relevant tests," Kearney said.
"He got to be x-rayed, scanned and whatever at the front end of the week and there was nothing wrong with him.
"But in his first carry he heard a crack, which is pretty unfortunate. It does throw your lineup out when you've got to replace a winger."
Tuivasa-Sheck's injury meant that Dean Whare had to move to the wing and Alex Glenn came into centre. For the rest of the match, Australia attacked that edge relentlessly.
However, Kearney doesn't believe that tactic from them was necessarily because of Tuivasa-Sheck's absence.
"I think they would have been looking to target that edge, England had a bit of success there last week," he said.
"When you replace a winger in any contest it's hard because you don't have a winger sitting on the bench. We had to shuffle lads around and put a makeshift centre out in the centres and the centre goes on the wing, so straight away, it throws that edge out a bit."
This Kiwis side has an average age of 25, far younger than the Australian team and Kearney hopes that the players will learn from this experience and come back better prepared to win the World Cup in four year's time.
"There are a lot of negatives to come out of today, but a positive is that I look at the side and we've got some pretty young kids in it," he said.
"For them to sit there, feel the hurt and listen to the celebrations of Australia next door in the dressing room, they've got to feel that and understand that next time we find ourselves in that position, that Australia's performance is what it's going to take to lift that trophy again."
The Kiwis needed Sonny Bill Williams to have a big game for them to be in with a genuine chance of winning the final and sadly for them he didn't. While he gave everything to the cause, there were numerous errors from him.
"I don't think you could fault his effort," Kearney said of Williams.
"He was trying and the skipper [Simon Mannering] too.
"I don't think you're going to pick guys out in our group in terms of their contribution and effort, both of them tried their hearts out all day.
"Some of the stuff didn't come off, but that's Sonny. He wants to try to make an impact on the game and he was doing that right to the end."