New Zealand has inflicted the heaviest international defeat on Australia in a 30-0 rout in the Pacific Cup final in Hamilton.
New Zealand were looking for revenge in the opening exchanges after a disappointing loss away from home against the Aussies. Strong physical footy was the order of the day early on with some big contact shots in defence.
The Kiwis opened the scoring with some enterprising attacking play. Ronaldo Mulitalo snapped Val Holmes with a brutal left foot-step to run a long way up field to find Dylan Brown who was brought down after an enterprising play. Following a set restart, Brown linked up again with Mulitalo to cross in the right corner for the Kiwis. Jamayne Isaako nailed the kick from the sideline and New Zealand had a 6-0 lead.
Both sides again engaged in physical rugby league for the remainder of the first half. But, it seemed Australia's attack was stuck in neutral with several chances going astray. Mulitalo was the man of the first half adding to his strong carries with the hit of the year on Holmes sending him back a long way. The Kangaroos attack was quite lethargic and offering little against the Kiwis defence.
Australia were made to pay for that six minutes before the break when the Kiwis shifted the ball out to the right. Jahrome Hughes linked up with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad out the back as Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow was interested in the lead run of Joey Manu. CNK found Isaako to score outwide in the right corner. Isaako converted his own try and despite some chances prior to the break, Australia went into the sheds with a duck-egg for the first time since 2005.
The second half started similar to the first for the Australians. Errors hurt them early and a Kotoni Staggs error gave the Kiwis prime field position. From the scrum Jahrome Hughes linked up with Isaako to score. Despite the Bunker's review, Ashley Klein found the right angle and confirmed the on-field decision from Adam Gee. Isaako's kick was waved away and it was an uphill battle for the Kangaroos.
With 20 minutes to go, the Kiwis delivered the dagger. Brilliant quick hands out to the left saw Dylan Brown provide the silky hands to Matt Timoko who burnt DCE and Holmes for pace and runs it round to improve the position. Isaako converted with the score at 22-0. Despite the best efforts and the injection of Nicho Hynes, the Kangaroos still were stuck with a duck-egg.
An obstruction penalty provided a gift two points for the Kiwis and Isaako nailed it for a 24-0 verdict. The icing on the cake was complete with Griffin Neame crashed through a paper-thin middle defence. James Tedesco could only hope and pray for the best as the big fella crashed his way over to score. Isaako converted for a 30-0 slaughter as the Kiwis took the 2023 Pacific Championship.