Errors cruel Kiwis' title chances
On an occasion where they needed to be near flawless to beat the in-form world champions, the Kiwis instead fumbled their way to a 34-8 drubbing at the hands of Australia in the Four Nations final.
The errors started inside the opening two minutes for David Kidwell's side, and they never stopped, with New Zealand finishing the match with a total of 14 mistakes, which saw them complete just 25 of 41 sets across 80 minutes at Anfield on Monday morning (AEDT).
"To do that in any game of football, let alone a final, let alone against a team like Australia, it's going to be tough," Kidwell said post-match.
"We just needed to get back to a decent completion rate to be honest with you… We gave them too many opportunities at the wrong end, and they took full advantage of it.
"They got out to a lead that was uncatchable really."
At the other end of the spectrum Australia rarely wasted their time with the ball, completing at 90 per cent and turning their extra possession into 10 line breaks and six tries.
New Zealand captain Jesse Bromwich said the sheer number of errors through periods of the game was unlike anything he had experienced across his seven-year professional career.
"Seven errors in 20 minutes [at one stage], I don't know if I have played a game where we have done that before," the Melbourne Storm front-rower said.
"You can not do that in this tournament, let alone the final.
"You may as well give them the ball and let them score a try there.
"We were working hard enough out there and to put pressure on ourselves like we did there was tough."
Despite the message constantly being relayed on the field to start holding the ball, New Zealand never found a significant period where they were able to stay error-free and build pressure.
Fullback Jordan Kahu, who provided the Kiwis with two highlights via tries in the 56th and 69th minutes, said they played to their intended style, but failed to execute on many levels.
"I guess we were just trying to do a bit too much," Kahu said.
"The style of footy the Kiwis like to play, we like to throw the footy around.
"We were throwing the ball around, but someone wasn't there and we were just making a few too many errors.
"We gave a good team an inch, and you can't do that against Australia."
Meanwhile New Zealand winger Jordan Rapana was taken to hospital immediately after the match, with Kiwis medical staff claiming he may suffered a fractured eye socket early in the second half.