Kidwell laments New Zealand's missed opportunities

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Head coach David Kidwell said New Zealand have to start taking their opportunities after losing to Australia in the Four Nations, though he does believe there is improvement in the team.

New Zealand rallied late but it was not enough as Four Nations favourites and trans-Tasman rivals Australia triumphed 14-8 in Coventry on Saturday.

Kidwell's New Zealand were outplayed in the first half before bouncing back in the second and almost crossing over for a third try in the dying moments but Shaun Johnson was held up over the try-line.

It condemned New Zealand to a third loss to Australia in 2016 and post-match, Kidwell lamented: "Test match football is about taking your opportunities, and I thought at times we didn't.

"But towards the end there we started playing some football that we know we can play.

"We just have to make sure that we take our opportunities both in attack and defence."

New Zealand were on the back foot early as Australia stormed out of the blocks with tries from Blake Ferguson and Johnathan Thurston putting the Aussies 10 points up inside 15 minutes.

The New Zealanders improved in the second half, Solomone Kata providing some much-needed spark to score the team's first try.

Some late magic from Johnson then set up Jordan Rapana for a late four-pointer as Australia survived a scare against fast-finishing New Zealand.

"Just letting them out of their half a couple of times. And Jesse [Bromwich] alluded to our ruck, making sure we're nice and tight around there," he added.

"I thought the way we fought back in the second half [was positive]. They got two penalty goals and no tries in the second half. Again, we're working hard. I couldn't be more proud of the effort."

Despite the loss, New Zealand - third in the standings - remain in contention to qualify for the Four Nations final and Kidwell believes his team are on an upward curve.

Victory over Scotland on Friday would see New Zealand reach the decider, unless England upstage Australia.

"I think we're definitely building, that's for sure, and improving," he said. "We improved from the Perth game [a 26-6 defeat to Australia last month] to the England game [last week's 17-16 win], and then I think we improved again. But like I said before it's about taking your opportunities.

"We're not going to be talking about any potential finals, or anything like that. I watched the start of the game between Scotland and England, and Scotland are a very good side as well. You can't take any team lightly in this tournament. We're looking to improve each week. It's going to be another tough contest."