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Australia Crushes New Zealand in Final

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Australia ran New Zealand ragged to claim their tenth World Cup title with Billy Slater and Brett Morris scoring two tries apiece in a 34-2 victory in Manchester Saturday. Cooper Cronk also touched down as Australia underlined their dominance of the code and gained revenge for their 2008 final defeat when New Zealand fought back from 16-12 down to win 34-20 and claim their first world title.

Australia led 16-2 at the break but any hopes of another Kiwi fightback were extinguished immediately after the restart when Slater scampered away for his second try. Their victory was built on the back of quick work around the ruck and precision kicking which allowed the Kangaroos to dominate territory and possession.

A ferocious defensive effort meant New Zealand barely had a sniff of crossing the line at Old Trafford, and by holding them tryless it meant Australia did not concede a four-pointer in the tournament since their opening victory over England.

“I am extremely proud,” Australia coach Tim Sheens told the BBC.

“We came over in front of a great crowd and performed really well. Our defence was great and our attitude was terrific.

“We didn’t start the game thinking that (hold New Zealand tryless) but with 20 minutes to go we did and to their credit they really dug in.”

After forcing New Zealand to drop out from their own goaline, a perfectly placed chip by Thurston allowed Slater to outleap Kieran Foran and dive over from close range. Melbourne Storm halfback Cronk got the second score, latching on to the ball after a break and grubber by Darius Boyd, after which Thurston overtook Mick Cronin as international league’s highest point scorer with the resulting conversion.

While New Zealand would have been hoping of another second-half fightback, any lingering hopes were dashed immediately after the restart when interplay play down the left by Smith, Thurston and Boyd freed Slater for another simple try. On 52 minutes Morris ensured the New Zealand reign as world champions would come to a disappointing end, reaching the ball first after a kick-ahead by Jarryd Hayne. With eight minutes remaining Morris scored his second after a Hayne intercept.

Australia's Cooper Cronk, with ball, is tackled by New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams, bottom left, and Shaun Johnson during their World Cup Final International Rugby LeagueCredit: AP