LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Australia restored the world order in rugby league by thrashing New Zealand 34-8 in a disappointingly one-sided Four Nations final at Anfield on Sunday.
The Kangaroos demonstrated a ruthless streak to establish an unassailable 24-0 lead at halftime, and easily held off a brief revival from the Kiwis to present coach Mal Meninga with a sixth win from his first six matches in charge.
There were shades of Australia's 34-2 rout of New Zealand in the Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford two years ago, as Meninga's men regained the Four Nations trophy and with it the tag of world No. 1 which means so much to their pride.
The six-try victory enabled Australia's big three of Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, and Cooper Cronk to mark their final appearances on English soil in familiar fashion, although they were upstaged by fullback Darius Boyd, who set up the first two tries and scored one himself to maintain his remarkable record of never being on the losing side for the Kangaroos.
New Zealand, which limped into the final after being held to 18-18 by minnow Scotland, lacked a cutting edge with forward Tohu Harris unable to get to grips with the stand-off role in the absence of an injured Thomas Le'ulua'i, but it was a string of basic errors that contributed to a one-sided contest that created something of an anti-climax for a healthy crowd of 40,042.
Australia 34 (Josh Dugan 2, Blake Ferguson, Trent Merrin, Darius Boyd, Boyd Cordner tries; Johnathon Thurston 5 goals), New Zealand 8 (Jordan Kahu 2 tries). HT: 24-0