St George Illawarra centre Mark Gasnier scored twice in the first 15 minutes to set Australia on course for a 28-12 win in a Test match marking 100 years of rugby league internationals against New Zealand.
|Ryan Hoffman, left, meets the Kiwis |
defensive line [GALLO/GETTY]
The centenary test was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where New Zealand edged Australia 11-10 in the first tran-Tasman test match in 1908.
The Australians got off to a flying start, literally, in the 6th minute when winger Greg Inglis leaped high over the deadball line to tap a ball back in-goal, where Gasnier grounded it for the try.
Johnathon Thurston, who kicked to set up Inglis, curled a sideline conversion over to add the extras and give the home side, who played in their original blue and maroon strip, a 6-0 lead.
Some soft defence close to their line then cost the Kiwis dearly.
Gasnier crossed again almost in the same spot for the next try, utilizing an overlap on the blindside from a play-the-ball at close range.
Secondrower Paul Gallen barged over from short range for a try on test debut and skipper Cameron Smith burrowed over from dummy half to make it 22-0 in the 22nd minute.
The Australians held onto the four-try buffer at the break, with fullback Billy Slater cutting down diminutive Kiwi hooker Issac Luke inches from the tryline after an individual break in New Zealand's best chance of the first half.
Second half revival
|Sonny Bill Williams was the best player of |
a beaten side [GALLO/GETTY]
Iosia Soliola started New Zealand's comeback with a try three minutes after half time and made big inroads on the right side, inspiring a forward pack resurgence led by Sonny Bill Williams.
The Kiwis dominated possession and territory early in the second half however poor options from halves Thomas Leuluai and Lance Hohaia meant they failed to turn the possession into points.
Australia sealed the result when Israel Folau scored in the 64th after Thurston kicked forward for Justin Hodges, who put his unmarked winger into the corner to make it 28-6.
Soliola set up a try for Sam Perrett in the right corner in the last minute and Luke, forced to wait to kick while a streaker was stopped on the field, landed the conversion to cut the final margin to 16 points.
"The first 20 cost us," Bulldogs enforcer Sonny Bill Williams said.
"Our last 60 minutes, we showed what we're capable of.
"We've just got to work on that before the World Cup."
It was a vast improvement for New Zealand following a 58-0 loss in Wellington in October, but not enough to prevent Australia from extending its lead to 83 wins, 27 losses and two draws in 100 years of tests between the two countries.
Legend Gibson passes away
Players and the almost 35,000 spectators observed a minute of silence in tribute to Jack Gibson, one of Australia's greatest rugby league coaches, who died two hours before kickoff. He was 79.
Gibson, a five-time premiership coach who was voted last month as Australia's rugby league 'coach of the century,' died after a long illness.