Kiwis' reign ends in utter misery
New Zealand's reign as rugby league world champions has ended in utter misery and embarrassment as they were smashed 34-2 by Australia in the World Cup final this morning.
After causing a massive upset in the final five years ago in Brisbane, the Kiwis couldn't repeat that feat and were taken to pieces in a devastatingly one-sided contest.
The Kangaroos were clinical in everything they did and found it all too easy to beat a Kiwis team that never got into the game.
It quickly became apparent that the majority of the 74,468 crowd at the sold-out Old Trafford were supporting New Zealand as the Kangaroos were greeted to boos as they came out for their warm up.
However, the atmosphere during the game was flat throughout as there was precious little that the Kiwis did that there was to get enthusiastic about.
Johnathan Thurston kicked Australia in front in the fifth minute after Kieran Foran was penalised for bumping into Billy Slater, preventing him from catching a bomb.
Three minutes later the Kiwis' game plan was in tatters when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck hobbled off the field, clearly still hampered by his sore right leg.
It meant a quick reshuffling of the Kiwis team with Dean Whare moving to the wing and Alex Glenn taking his spot at centre. The Kangaroos didn't waste any time jumping on the Kiwis' weakness and relentlessly attack down their left edge for the entire game.
There was more drama straight after when Jarryd Hayne looked to knock himself out when he got his head in the wrong position trying to tackle Simon Mannering.
However, after a couple of minutes Hayne continued in the game, despite appearing groggy initially.
In the 15th minute, Shaun Johnson had levelled the scores at 2-2 from a penalty, however the game was only tied briefly as Billy Slater scored the opening try, catching Thurston's kick, then spinning round and diving over.
Ten minutes later the Kangaroos came close to scoring their second try, Hayne took a snap kick from out wide, Cooper Cronk beat Issac Luke to the ball but couldn't ground it as the Kiwis hooker just managed to get his hand under it.
However, the Australians did get another try on the half hour mark with Cronk being the first to a loose ball close to the Kiwis' line.
Four minutes from the break Thurston stretched Australia's lead further with another penalty and it was the final significant act of what had been a dreadful half for New Zealand.
Forty five seconds into the second half the Kangaroos had all but confirmed themselves as World Cup winners when Slater strolled in for his second try, as Australia again carved up down their left edge.
In the 50th minute, what Thurston feared in his press conference came true, with Australian wing Brett Morris smashing into the electronic advertising hoarding as he slid out of play after grounding the ball for his country's next try.
Five minutes later Manu Vatuvei crashed into the hoarding at the other end of the ground, with his body bouncing off the concrete below him before the collision. Both instances demonstrated that in a final where both teams will do everything to score, Old Trafford is simply too dangerous a venue.
Morris got the Kangaroos' final try in the 72nd minute and that was the signal for the Australian players to begin their celebrations, safe in the knowledge that they were the new world champions.
Australia 32 (Billy Slater 2, Brett Morris 2, Cooper Cronk tries; Johnathan Thurston 5 con, penalty) New Zealand 2(Shaun Johnson penalty). HT: 16-2