Australia brush aside New Zealand to take Four Nations title


World champions Australia ended New Zealand's reign as Four Nations holders in emphatic fashion with a 34-8 hammering akin to the trouncing they delivered in the Rugby League World Cup final three years ago.

The Kangaroos came into the match as favourites having recorded a third victory in a row over the Kiwis during the group stage.

Yet while their meeting in Coventry proved tight, Australia running out 14-8 winners, Sunday's tournament showpiece at Anfield saw Mal Meninga's men produce a ruthless demonstration of their attacking prowess.

Australia had regained the world title in 2013 with a 34-2 success at Old Trafford and were just 10 points shy of their total from that game by half-time.

A miraculous Kiwi turnaround was never on the cards as they were easily deposed as champions and the top-ranked side in international rugby league.

Australia needed just two minutes to break the deadlock, forcing winger Jordan Rapana into a handling error, which they swiftly took advantage of by spreading the ball out to the right for Blake Ferguson to touch down.

Rapana looked set to atone for that mistake when he burst through the Australia defence from dummy half before linking up with Shaun Kenny-Dowall, but the attacking move came to a disappointing end courtesy of an errant Shaun Johnson pass.

Valentine Holmes pounced on that loose ball and raced into the New Zealand half, with the Kangaroos again putting their territorial gain to excellent use, Josh Dugan the beneficiary of more slick passing on this occasion.

Johnathan Thurston could not add the extras, but made it 12-0 shortly after with a simple penalty and the gap was widened further when Trent Merrin crashed over from close range.

Another Thurston goal took Australia to the 20-point mark and the North Queensland Cowboys half-back was the creator as Australia added further gloss to the scoreline, Dugan reacting quickest to his grubber.

Darius Boyd scooted over soon after the second-half restart as the rout continued apace, though Holmes was prevented from piling further misery on New Zealand by the video referee.

Jordan Kahu restored a measure of respectability to the score with two tries, each of which he failed to convert, but it was Australia who fittingly had the final say as Boyd Cordner powered across the line.