Australia have reclaimed the Rugby League World Cup from New Zealand in devastating style in Manchester.
The Australians scored five tries to cruise to a 34-2 victory in the most one-sided final in the competition’s 59-year history on Saturday.
Billy Slater and Brett Morris both crossed twice and Cooper Cronk added the other try as the Kangaroos produced a near-flawless performance at Old Trafford to win the trophy for the 10th time in 14 editions.
“It is one of the best team performances I have ever been part of,” said Australia captain Cameron Smith, who was sprayed with champagne by his jubilant teammates as he lifted the trophy to the backdrop of fireworks at Old Trafford.
New Zealand forward Sonny Bill Williams was bidding to become the first player to win World Cups in both rugby codes but his subdued performance was summed up when his pass was intercepted in the lead-up to Australia’s final try, a length-of-the-field score finished off by Morris.
Five years is a long time to get another opportunity, but a little bit of that disappointment has been taken away by this win.
Australia finished the tournament without having conceded a try since its opening-day win over England five weeks ago.
The Australians finished the tournament without having conceded a try in 404 minutes since their win over England in the opening match five weeks ago.
In their five games since then, they shipped only four points in five matches, scoring 244.
For Australia’s 30-year-olds Smith, Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston,who kicked all seven of his goals, it completes the resumes of three of the modern-day rugby league greats in probably their final World Cup.
And it goes a long way to making up for the 2008 final, when New Zealand stunned their fierce rival in Brisbane to claim the sport’s biggest prize for the first time.
“Five years is a long time to get another opportunity,” Smith said,
“But a little bit of that disappointment has been taken away by this win.”
Ticket sales topped 74,000, beating the previous record crowd of 73,631 for the 1992 World Cup final between Britain
and Australia at Wembley Stadium.
When the two southern hemisphere giants met in the 2000 World Cup final at Old Trafford, there were 44,329 spectators.