With the Kiwis losing several key men prior to the match, Australia proved their favoritism, as their silky backline clicked into gear in front of an impressive Brisbane crowd.
The Kiwis had no answers, as the revived Kangaroos with Johnathan Thurston and Justin Hodges scoring doubles in a 7 try bonanza – with the new guidance of coach Tim Sheens looking to be an ideal blend with the talent pool of the Kangaroos side.
The New Zealand side was always facing a big ask, losing Issac Luke and Jeremy Smith for the game and of course trying to remain the underdog, after such a big showing in the World Cup – it was too big of an ask. Coach Stephen Kearney left to do it alone, with no Wayne Bennett on board for this match.
Sheens’ call for more settled and simple play was evident early, but once the Kangaroos gained confidence, the likes of Folau, Slater and Hodges really turned it on.
Hodges in particular back to his elusive best at rep level and the warning signs were there for the NSW squad, as the Queensland and Australian backline like looks amazingly dangerous.
Lockyer and Thurston returned to their previous season best, combining well and utilizing the ideal platform from the likes of Price, Civoniceva and Kite.
The young Kiwi forward pack tried admirably, Greg Eastwood in particular putting in a big effort as Benji Marshall tried hard to spark things in the halves.
New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney admitted a poor 10 minutes either side of the break cost his side as Australia turned a 10-6 lead into a 22-6 advantage.
“I’m disappointed obviously with the result, but the one thing I couldn’t fault was the lads’ effort.
“I guess a couple of instances in the game … they were moments in the game that made it really tough for us.”
Kangaroos skipper Darren Lockyer said it was a satisfying win.
“They won the World Cup last year and we can’t take that away from New Zealand, we can only come out tonight and play the way we did,” he said.
“You walk away from winning tonight feeling good about ourselves and felling proud about playing for Australia.”
Australia v New Zealand International Rugby League Test, Friday May 8 2009, Suncorp Stadium.