Meninga starts Australia reign with unconvincing Anzac win


Mal Meninga's reign as Australia head coach began with an unconvincing 16-0 win in the Anzac Test against New Zealand on Friday.

Australia dominated proceedings for much of the contest at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle but struggled to find a way through a New Zealand side missing a number of key names.

The likes of Issac Luke, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Kieran Foran were all missing for Stephen Kearney's men, and it was his side's lack of cohesion in attack that proved the difference.

An experienced Australia side were more dangerous offensively throughout, with tries from Darius Boyd and Greg Inglis and a late Blake Ferguson score proving enough to seal success.

Australia suffered an early setback as Test debutant Semi Radradra, having previously represented Fiji, was sent to the sin bin for pushing Kevin Proctor when the New Zealand second row attempted to pounce on a kick into the in-goal area.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was the hosts who dominated during Radradra's absence, Ferguson dropping the ball as he looked to go over in the corner on the right-hand side before Boyd opened the scoring in the 14th minute.

The Brisbane Broncos full-back threw a dummy and squeaked his way over from close range, with Johnathan Thurston's conversion attempt striking the left-hand upright.

Thurston redeemed himself with a penalty from in front of the posts and Australia continued to dominate matters after Radradra's re-introduction, Inglis furthering their grip on the game with a fine finish seven minutes before half-time.

Inglis shook off one defender and then dummied another to cross for the Kangaroos' second try but saw another chalked off as Thurston was ruled to have made contact with the head of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who lost the ball in the tackle - enabling the South Sydney Rabbitohs back to touch down in vain.

Australia would have extended their lead in spectacular fashion if not for excellent defence from Jordan Kahu, the full-back forcing Cooper Cronk to spill the ball after he collected a superb sideline kick from Ferguson.

Cameron Smith added a two-pointer soon after the restart, with Sam Moa penalised for taking out Thurston off the ball.

Despite heavy Australia pressure in the second half, the Kangaroos found it difficult to stretch the gap as New Zealand defended bravely, but Ferguson did dive over in the closing stages to add some gloss to the scoreline as the Kiwis' run of three straight wins over their Trans-Tasman rivals came to an end.