New Zealand win RL World Cup
New Zealand overcome the odds to beat home favourites Australia with 34-20 win.
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2008 13:26 GMT

Captain Darren Lockyer wonders what he could have done differently [GALLO/GETTY]
New Zealand overcame staggering odds to beat heavily favoured Australia 34-20 in the Rugby League World Cup final in Australia.

Australia, looking to win their seventh straight World Cup, went through the tournament undefeated to reach the final and allowed their opponents only 16 points in five previous matches.

That included an earlier 30-6 win over New Zealand in their opening pool match, a 52-4 win over England and 52-0 victory over Fiji in the semi-finals.

NZ dream

But it was a different story in the final, as New Zealand, with former Australian coach Wayne Bennett serving as an assistant, dominated the second half.

The Kiwis' win was sealed with 10 minutes to go with a rare penalty try, after fullback Lance Hohaia was held back by winger Joel Monaghan as he chased a Nathan Fien kick.

England video referee Steve Ganson ruled in New Zealand's favour and Benji Marshall's conversion gave New Zealand a 28-20 lead.

Prop Adam Blair's try, New Zealand's sixth, four minutes from full time finished the scoring before 50,559 fans at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Australia have won the past six World Cups going back to 1975 and have not lost a World Cup match against New Zealand in 13 previous meetings.

Australia captain Darren Lockyer scored his second try of the match to give Australia a 16-12 halftime lead.

But it was not enough as New Zealand became the first side other than Australia to win a World Cup since Britain's victory in 1972.

Lance Hohaia squeezes over the line [GALLO/GETTY]
Career high

New Zealand captain Nathan Cayless rated the win as the greatest moment of his career.

"I've had a few chances in big games and this is the biggest for me,'' Cayless said.

"I just thank the boys, they've been outstanding.

"We had a few players that couldn't be here, but the boys that were here took their opportunities, it's just unbelievable.

"We knew we could play a lot better than we did in the first game, " he continued.

"We really deserved this, we worked hard for it and we're really going to enjoy it.''

Overcoming setbacks

New Zealand five-eighth Benji Marshall, who fought back from multiple shoulder surgeries in recent seasons, said the feeling was on a par with his National Rugby League grand final win with Wests Tigers in 2005.

"It's up there mate, probably equal.

"From where I've come from, all the injuries and setbacks I've had, to get here and pull that off, it's just great.''

Head coach Stephen Kearney said his team always believed they could upset Australia after a heavy defeat in the opening match.

"We knew we would get opportunities,'' Kearney said.

"The first 15 minutes of that second half was really important... I'm just overwhelmed.''

Australian captain Lockyer said it was a huge missed opportunity for his side.

"Congratulations to New Zealand on a great game tonight,'' he said.

"It wasn't to be.''

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