Rugby League World Cup final: Australia beat New Zealand 34-2 at Old Trafford
Last Updated: 01/12/13 12:43pm
Billy Slater and Brett Morris both notched a brace of tries as Australia routed holders New Zealand 34-2 at Old Trafford to reclaim the Rugby League World Cup.
Slater, who had been a serious injury doubt leading up to the match, notched the first touchdown of Saturday's contest and Cooper Cronk also ran in a first-half try as the Kangaroos opened up a 16-2 interval lead.
Any hopes the Kiwis had of coming back into the clash were dashed by Slater claiming his second of the afternoon soon after the re-start.
Morris then notched a double, while Jonathan Thurston kicked 14 points, as Australia claimed the title for the first time since 2000, when the trans-Tasman rivals - who have contested the last three finals - clashed at the same venue in Manchester and the 'Roos won 40-12 on that occasion.
It was payback time for Slater as he helped Australia regain their world crown five years on from experiencing his greatest humiliation.
The Melbourne Storm full-back's careless offload which gifted a crucial try to Benji Marshall was the abiding memory of the Kangaroos' shock 34-20 defeat to New Zealand in Brisbane in 2008.
But normal service was resumed for Australia here as they ran in five tries. More impressively, they kept their try-line intact for the fifth successive match, meaning only England breached their defence during the tournament.
It was all something of an anti-climax as the curtain fell on the 14th and most successful World Cup in front of sell-out crowd of 74,468 - a new record for a rugby league international.
Perhaps the Kiwis had expended all their energy on their emotional last-gasp semi-final victory over England a week ago, for they were never in contention despite the urgings of the vast majority of the crowd.
They began nervously, with Jesse Bromwich knocking on inside the first set of six tackles, and they lost leading try-scorer Roger Tuivasa-Sheck after only seven minutes with a recurrence of a calf injury.
Thurston gave his side the lead with an early penalty which was cancelled out on 15 minutes by Shaun Johnson, but that was as good as it got for the holders.
Slater, who had missed the semi-final win over Fiji, fittingly scored the first try, out-jumping Kieran Foran to reclaim the ball from Thurston's crossfield kick and stretched out to plant the ball over the line.
Cronk was denied a try by video referee Ashley Klein for an obstruction but he made no mistake on 29 minutes when he swooped on a kick from Darius Boyd.
Thurston added the goal, breaking fellow Australian Mick Cronin's international points record of 309 in the process, and increased the lead to 16-2 by half-time with his second penalty.
No way back
New Zealand's only try-scoring chance of the first-half came when Manu Vatuvei managed to gather Johnson's high kick but he was tackled just short of the line, and there was no way back when the Kangaroos scored again within a minute of the re-start.
Thurston was once more the architect, breaking through the first line of defence to free Boyd. Slater was then in support to grab his second on the day and his 22nd in 24 appearances for his country.
The Australians were simply irresistible and it was no surprise when they added another try, with Morris taking an audacious offload from Josh Papalii to race down the touchline and following up two kicks with a spectacular dive.
There was a moment of alarm when Morris crashed into an advertising hoarding, recalling memories of the incident earlier in the tournament in which team-mate Luke Lewis suffered a dislocated shoulder, but he was able to continue after treatment.
Instead it was the Kiwis who were left with more wounds to lick as Jarryd Hayne intercepted a pass from Sonny Bill Williams to send Morris over for another on 71 minutes, with Thurston inevitably converting.
Rugby League World Cup final
Australia beat New Zealand to win the Rugby League World Cup, thrashing them 34-2 in front of a record breaking 75,000 crowd at Old Trafford.
Tim Sheens hailed the 'best performance' of his time in charge of Australia after the rout of New Zealand.
The action in pictures as Australia regained the World Cup against New Zealand
- Thurston: Make in-goal safe
- Tuivasa-Sheck pinching himself
- Australia v New Zealand: Teams
- Mannering hails Tuivasa-Sheck
- Final: Key Battles
- Bird confident of victory
- Slater in WC fitness race
- Bird keen for Super return
- Foran plans surprise tactics
- Silverwood to ref WC final
- Australia eye invincibility
- Thaiday: No repeat of 2008