Shaun Johnson

Despite a late Australian comeback, it was not enough, as the New Zealand Kiwis won 22-18 at Westpac Stadium to take out their second Four Nations title.

After winning the Four Nations in 2010, it was a bit of a wait to win the next one but the Kiwis have done it and for the first time in 61 years, the Kiwis won consecutive games against the Kangaroos.

It was a topsy-turvy game with both sides giving away nothing, with only individual skill breaking through and leading to tries.

Both sides were sturdy in defence and worked hard to create opportunities and limit the other team from scoring, resulting in a hard-fought game.

There was a sour note to the game, though, with Kiwis prop Martin Taupau leaving the field with a suspected neck injury.

The game nearly turned on its head when Sione Mata’utia crossed the line in what looked to be a late try for the Kangaroos but it was called back for a forward pass earlier in the play.

Despite the loss, Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens was pleased with his side’s effort and praised their courage.

“They played very well, I was very proud of my guys and their courage, they did the jumper proud,” Sheens said.

“We were a little inexperienced and a couple of things went against us and that is all it takes in these sorts of games.

“We just didn’t get the ball where we needed it at times and we used up a lot of juice defending our own line there so it was hard going.”

“That defence on goal-line second half…that game could have blown out but it didn’t and we gave ourselves a second chance and nearly snagged it.

“At the end of the day I suppose we ran out of a bit of time.”

Man-of-the-match Shaun Johnson said that although he did play very well, had it not been for the Kiwi forwards, he would not have been able to play as well as he did.

“As a half there is no way I could have jumped on the back of it if they [the forwards] weren’t doing that,” said Johnson, who busted the game open in the 58th minute with his 40-metre try.

“They have been doing it for a few weeks now and I am just glad I could execute when I got that chance off the back of it.

“There were some really tough carries that had to be made out there and the forwards just kept delivering.

“I thought the forwards did a really good job laying the platform.”

He also praised the Australian side for maintaining the pressure on him throughout the game.

“Obviously the kicking game was always going to be pretty important and I thought they did a good job with putting some pressure on me.

“But again it was how we reacted to it. We still got a kick up and the boys really chased well. I thought ‘Foz’ (Kieran Foran) really led the kick chase well again tonight and sort of set that standard for us.”

New Zealand 22 (Manu Vatuvei 2, Jason Nightingale, Shaun Johnson tries; Shaun Johnson 3 goals) defeated Australia 18 (Michael Jennings, Sione Mata’utia, Ben Hunt tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals) at Westpac Stadium. Crowd: 25,093.

By ricky

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