New Zealand handed Australia their heaviest ever defeat and a rugby league lesson for the ages in a record-breaking 30-0 Pacific Cup final win in Hamilton.
It was the biggest losing margin in Australia’s Test history, surpassing the 24-point beatings in 1952 and 2005 which were also administered by the Kiwis.
From start to finish, and from fullback to the bench, the Kiwis were superior in every facet of play against a Kangaroos outfit that offered nothing in attack and appeared disinterested in defence.
Kiwi lock Joseph Tapine led the pack like a colossus, and halves Dylan Brown and Jahrome Hughes controlled play at their leisure in the inaugural Pacific Cup. Winger Jamayne Isaako scored a double to continue his incredible year.
As a collective this was New Zealand at their best in their first win over Australia since 2018.
Winger Ronaldo Mulitalo started and finished a sensational length-of-the-field movement by the Kiwis in the 14th minute. The Cronulla flyer made a line-break initially and two plays later was on the end of a perfectly weighted Brown cutout pass.
New Zealand’s Ronaldo Mulitalo scores a try during the Kiwis’ 2023 Pacific Cup final win over Australia. Photograph: Andrew Cornaga/AAP
Mulitalo was on fire throughout the first half with his running game, but also unleashed a ferocious ball-and-all tackle on opposite number Valentine Holmes when the Kangaroos winger looked threatening.
Brown and half Jahrome Hughes were on song in combination in the opening stanza. Hughes linked with fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to send in-form winger Isaako over in the corner for a fabulous team try on the cusp of halftime.
The hosts had five line breaks to one in the first half and were powered up front by Tapine and bench forward Leo Thompson, while starting Kiwis props Moses Leota and James Fisher-Harris outplayed Kangaroos duo Payne Haas and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.
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Australia missed 34 tackles in the first half and couldn’t seem to muster any intensity in their play. They were just as bad in the second stanza.
Isaako finished a scrum move in the corner following the break after a floating Hughes ball caught Australia short. The Dolphins flyer put the ball down one millimetre inside the touch-in-goal line in a sublime piece of skill to give the Kiwis a 16-0 lead.
Brown was at his lethal best when his soft hands put barnstorming centre Matt Timoko over under the posts, before bench forward Griffin Neame bulldozed past Nicho Hynes and James Tedesco to embarrass the threadbare Kangaroos defence.