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RugbyL: Hats off to Australia, say defeated Kiwis

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney was humble after his side's 34-2 thumping at the hands of an on-fire Australia team in the Rugby League World Cup final on Saturday.

The Kangaroos notched up five tries through Billy Slater (2), Cooper Cronk and Brett Morris (2), Johnathan Thurston bagging the rest of the points with a faultless kicking display of seven from seven.

The Kiwis' sole points came from a single Shaun Johnson penalty as the team failed to fire in the face of an incredible encompassing blanket defence.

"I thought Australia's performance was nothing short of outstanding," Kearney said.

"They were too good for us today, it's as simple as that.

"We just couldn't get ourselves into the contest. The pressure that they mounted, we were hanging in there. But on their last-tackle finishes they came up with points, particularly in the first half.

"I thought their performance was pretty faultless today."

The Kiwi team were hit by a seventh minute injury to star winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who sustained a suspected hairline fracture of his shin.

With four big men on the interchange, the Kiwi gameplan became a little scripted and played into Kanagaroo hands.

"In his first carry he heard a crack," Kearney said of the 20-year-old Roosters winger.

"It does throw your line-up out when you've got to replace a winger. I'm sure they'd have been targeting that edge.

"When you replace a winger in any contest, it's hard because you don't have a winger sitting on the bench and you have to shuffle lads around and put a makeshift centre out in the centres and a centre on the wing."

Skipper Simon Mannering acknowledged that "we probably went away from our strengths".

"When they had the ball they were troubling our defence, we were far too loose through the middle and that sort of burned us out for when we got the ball back," he said.

"A few times we were playing the ball on the sideline on the last tackle trying to get a kick away, then you get a poor kick away and its more pressure on us.

"They defended very well. We probably didn't threaten them a lot throughout the game with the field position we had, but that's credit to them."

Kearney was left to hail the youth of his team.

"We are disappointed with today but we are a young side and there is some talent coming through so we need to learn from this experience," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131130/rugbyl-hats-australia-say-defeated-kiwis