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1. Greg Inglis – Safe as houses under a series of booming Shaun Johnson bombs and a trio of Kieran Foran grubbers as New Zealand repeatedly attacked Australia's line early on, before returning fire with his own massive bomb to confound Manu Vatuvei in the second half. Couldn't halt Johnson's run to the tryline midway through the second half, and finally produced one of his usual barnstorming runs in the dying minutes after a mostly quiet game. 7

2. Josh Mansour – Had a half chance to open the scoring two minutes in but couldn't grasp a Cameron Smith grubber, and was denied another scoring chance by a Jason Nightingale ankle tap after breaking clear down the left. Was found out of position for New Zealand's first try and spilled a Shaun Johnson bomb as the Kiwis started to gain the ascendency. Ran the ball strongly as always, including an impressive effort to get out of his own in-goal in the game's early stages. 5

3. Michael Jennings – Was on the spot with a rebound from a Cooper Cronk kick to cross for the game's first try, and was in the action again soon after with a perfectly-timed pass to send Mansour clear. Made a couple of key reads in defence to deny New Zealand  and was – predictably – the most solid of Australia's young line of three-quarters. 6.5

4. Dylan Walker – Was fortunate to receive a penalty when he seemingly spilled the ball during a play the ball inside his own half early on and was even luckier New Zealand didn't score after a bomb sailed straight through his hands on Australia's try-line. Missed half a dozen tackles against the Kiwis' left-edge attackers and was kept quiet attack until producing a quality flick pass in the lead-up to Ben Hunt's late try. 4

5. Sione Mata'utia – The teenage rookie was unable to stop either of Manu Vatuvei's tries but grabbed his first Test four-pointer in the opening moments of the second half courtesy of Daly Cherry-Evans. Was cool under pressure in helping to set up Ben Hunt's try and came oh-so-close to scoring a late equaliser in the final minute. 5

6. Daly Cherry-Evans – Again concentrated on his running game with Cronk and Smith pulling the strings, and it paid off early with Cherry-Evans making the half break that led to Australia's first try. Burst through another gap early in the second term to lay on Mata'utia's try, before falling for a Shaun Johnson dummy as the Kiwi halfback ran clear to score. 6

7. Cooper Cronk – A mixed night, at best. Laid on a well-weighted chip kick for the game's opening try, then missed a key tackle on Kenny-Dowall that led to New Zealand's first four-pointer. Put a regulation kick out on the full, knocked on from dummy half in front of his own goalposts, struggled to spark Australia's attack, then claimed another try assist with a Hail Mary pass over his shoulder for Ben Hunt in the dying minutes. 5

8. Aaron Woods – A solid-at-best performance from the shaggy-haired Wests Tiger in a beaten pack. He didn't match the intensity of the classy Jesse Bromwich or a fired-up Marty Taupau but he did produce 10 runs for 88 metres plus 20 tackles. 5.5

9. Cameron Smith (c) – Australia's most dangerous playmaker in the early stages, Smith got through his usual massive defensive workload with 54 tackles, even popping up once to defuse a grubber in his own in-goal. Kicked three from three to keep the Kangaroos in the contest until the last minute. 7

10. Josh Papalii – Did his best to try and meet the challenge of a powerful Kiwis forward pack, making 10 metres with every hit-up for the first hour. Finished with 103 run metres and 29 tackles. 6

11. Sam Thaiday – Made little impact with ball in hand in the first half but at least didn't miss any tackles as the Kiwi pack started to dominate the forward battle. Went off with an injury in the final 10 minutes, but by then had made 35 tackles (and no misses). 5

12. Greg Bird – Strong carries, quick play-the-balls and big hits were the order of the day for Bird –even after being met with the full force of a charging Martin Taupau. Was one of three Kangaroos beaten by Shaun Johnson in the lead-up to Manu Vatuvei's try and came up empty a few times in defence, but led Australia's go-forward with 116 metres. 7

13. Corey Parker – Drew the game's first penalty with a strong early charge, created the Aussies' first try-scoring chance with a trademark offload, and was held up over the line minutes later. Produced about 100 run metres and 44 tackles. 6.5


14. Boyd Cordner – Made a dozen tackles but just a single run in the first half, but started to make his presence known in the second. Was beaten by a superb Shaun Johnson for the Kiwi half's solo try but came up with 20 tackles, half a dozen decent carries and a charge-down. 5

18. Ben Hunt – Strangely kept out of the contest until the late stages but kept his team in it by swooping on a try in the final five minutes. 5.5

19. Josh Jackson – A non-factor in the first half, Jackson's defensive prowess came in handy on one or two occasions in the second 40, with the Bulldogs workhorse finishing with 25 tackles off the bench. 5

20. David Klemmer – The hulking rookie prop gave away a penalty almost immediately after being introduced off the bench in the first term but soon started showing the aggression in attack and defence that has made him one of the Kangaroos' finds of the tournament. 7
Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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