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Australian captain Danny Buderus admits defeat in the final of the Gillette Tri-Nations Series to New Zealand left ?sour taste? in the mouths of a group of players who have only ever known the feeling of victory.
The green and gold machine have ruled the world of rugby league for nearly three decades, with their last series defeat coming against France back in 1978.
But a new era was marked at Elland Road on Saturday when the Kiwis dominated the Australians from start to finish to run out easy 24-0 winners in a surprisingly one-sided encounter.
And Buderus, who was given the captain?s armband in the absence of the injured Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer, revealed the mood of the Australian camp more than matched the gloomy conditions on a cold night in West Yorkshire.
?The mood?s definitely damp,? Buderus admitted. ?We wanted to finish on a good note, but now we?re going home and it?s a bit of a sour taste.
?The winning streak has come to an end. Everyone wanted us to lose and the result came. We played pretty poor and the Kiwis played great and held onto everything and fully deserved their win.?
Buderus also admitted the responsibility of being part of the Australian side that surrendered its hold on the international game after such a long time will not sit easy with the players involved.
He said: ?As an Aussie, you can usually pick yourself up and move onto next week. But now we?ve got a full off-season and then we?ll play for our clubs, and the next chance we?ll get to do it is at the end of next year.
?It was always going to come. I guess if we?d won, no-one would have given a hoot about the series, it would just have been another series that Australia wins. Now we?re going to have a lot of media at home waiting for us.?
Australia were knocked out of their stride from the first whistle by a determined New Zealand outfit, led by captain Ruben Wiki and the mercurial Stacey Jones, who more than gained the respect and admiration of their opponents from across the Tasman.
?They were great,? Buderus continued. ?They completed 90% of their ball and that knocked all the energy out of us because we spilled so much.
?I think we got flustered and rattled by a few decisions we couldn?t work out. But it was out of our hands, it?s up to the man in the middle, but they played well and full credit.?
Buderus also expects defeat for the Kangaroos to increase interest in next year?s competition, which will be held on Australian soil for the first time after two years in Great Britain.
When asked whether the fans Down Under, who have failed to fully support international rugby league in the past because of the overwhelming dominance of their side, would be more inclined to turn out given the increased level of competition, he added: ?Yeah, I guess so.
?A loss always creates news, so they?ll probably come out and support us a bit more now. New Zealand are going to be strong again, and it?s also good for the World Cup in 2008.?
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this article.
More info: www.tri-nations.com.au Discussion: Tri-Nations Forum at http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/forumdisplay.php?f=130