Anzac Test: Five key points

A World Cup warning, captain Cam celebrates 50 in style, Kiwis combinations fail to click and Josh Dugan's Origin hopes in doubt due to friendly fire. The key talking points to come from the Kangaroos' Anzac Test win over the Kiwis.

Kangaroos issue ominous World Cup warning

They have met in the final of every Rugby League World Cup this century but by condemning the Kiwis to another heavy defeat in Canberra on Friday night the Kangaroos have sent a warning to every nation competing in the World Cup at the end of the year.

Having regained the No.1 ranking with a 34-8 win in the 2016 Four Nations Final, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has revitalised the Test jersey but in the process made it a daunting prospect for any side that shares the field with them.

A 24-0 lead at half-time became an unassailable 30-0 advantage after just five minutes of the second half and while the Kiwis did finally land a couple of blows late in the game it did nothing to dull the dominance of the Kangaroos.

The likes of Samoa, Fiji and Tonga aren't yet ready to challenge Australia in the international arena which raises the question that if not New Zealand, then who?

Cameron Smith's happy 50th

There have been bigger and plenty faster but there has never been a player in the history of the game in Australia smarter than Cameron Smith.

In a history-making 50th Test for the Kangaroos Smith received all the plaudits on offer prior to kick-off and after son Jasper completed the duties at the coin toss went about completely dismantling the Kiwis in the first 40 minutes.

An early kick in the set after Blake Ferguson's try turned the heat up on the blowtorch that little bit more and with the Kiwis on the back foot provided a pass for Sam Thaiday that was pure genius.

Sensing Shaun Johnson rushing out of the line to put a hit on Boyd Cordner, Smith held it back for just a moment, put Thaiday in space and from the next play Will Chambers strolled through a New Zealand defence in disarray.

If that wasn't enough little more than five minutes later he goaded Johnson into running it on the last tackle on the halfway line and six tackles after the handover in possession Tyson Frizell had scored his second Test try under the posts.

Is it possible that 50 Tests in he's playing better than ever?

 


Kiwis' end to sets cruel their hopes

The build-up to the Test centred around the all-Warriors spine of the New Zealand team but despite the combination of Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran having such a great record at Test level it failed to translate into points.

In the first eight minutes both Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jordan Rapana kicked the ball dead in-goal on the last tackle and while they were able to build pressure midway through the first half they were unable to create anything to really trouble the Australian defence.

The only time they crossed the line in the first 40 minutes was when Rapana dived across but the bat on from Johnson that put him in space was ruled forward and another chance went begging.

Things didn't improve to start the second half with both Issac Luke and Kenny Bromwich put in kicks that were far from effective and as the scoreline continued to blow out they struggled to bring any sense of order to their side's attack.

Their combination has shown such promise in recent weeks at the Warriors but on Friday night Foran and Johnson appeared to be working from different sets of instructions.

Dragons' clash dents Dugan's Origin hopes

He spent the first 40 minutes securing his place at right centre for the New South Wales team in Origin I but Laurie's Daley's best-laid plans were thrown into disarray eight minutes into the second half when Josh Dugan crashed into Dragons teammate Russell Packer and came off second best.

Early reports suggested that Dugan may have suffered a broken cheekbone in the high-powered head clash which would make his availability for Origin I in little more than three weeks highly doubtful.

It was a devastating way for Dugan's night to end after he dominated both with and without the ball in the first half.

In the early stages he brought a Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at full steam to a dead stop with a thunderous hit and then soared high above opposite number Jordan Kahu to claim a two-handed grab of a Johnathan Thurston kick and post first points in the game.

Matt Gillett: rugby league's best defender

No player in the game is chosen only for either their attack or defence but such is Matt Gillett's influence without the ball that he could not touch the ball and still be one of his team's best.

Named Man of the Match the Kangaroo back-rower made a game-high 45 tackles and a number of them came at the most important time possible.

Twice he was the one to come in and stop a Kiwi player from scoring after they'd crossed the line in the first half and in the second term he put a one-on-one shot on Foran that completely shut down New Zealand's attacking momentum.

But he's not merely a tackling machine, he also came up with a line break in each half to further entrench his position as the game's best second-rower.