The 2017 ANZAC Test was hosted at GIO Stadium in Canberra with many commentators suggesting that it would be the Australians who would triumph again to make it sixteen wins in eighteen ANZAC tests.
But there were also those who were suggesting that this is the best Kiwi side for some time, and that they were likely to give the Kangaroos a far stiffer test than they did in going down 34-8 in last seasons Four Nations Final in Liverpool. In the last ANZAC test New Zealand were nilled as the Aussies scored sixteen points, they would be hoping to fare much better this time out.
The bookies had given the Kiwis a six point start on the coupon and the stage was set for a competitive game, the 135th test between the two giants of international rugby league.
It was a high octane and ferocious opening.
After forcing back to back Kiwi dropouts a pinpoint Jonathan Thurston cross field kick was plucked out of the air by Josh Dugan who dropped to the ground to score an eleventh minute try. Thurston kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
On sixteen Shaun Johnson threw a pass to the wing which was intercepted on the Australian five by Blake Ferguson. The winger pinned back his ears and evaded the the Kiwi chasers to go nearly the length of the field to score by the corner. Thurston drilled the conversion between the uprights.
New Zealand were denied a try after a forward pass on twenty-five and turning defence into attack, three minutes later Sam Thaiday bust two tackles and made thirty metres before being tackled ten out from the line. Will Chambers went from acting half back to step past the defence and score. Thurston added the extras for 18-0 and it looked as though the game was already beyond New Zealand.
A thirty fourth minute Thurston grubber from fifteen metres hit the post pad and bounced into goal, wrong footing the Kiwi defence and allowing Tyson Frizell a simple touchdown under the sticks giving Thurston a simple kick for 24-0 at the interval.
Fantastic fast hands from Australia, in the third minute after the restart, allowed Jake Trbojevic to cross off a superb but risky no-look Cooper Cronk pass. Thurston added the goal and the test was over as a competition.
New Zealand broke their duck on fifty-five when the video referee confirmed the on-field decision that Simon Mannering had managed to ground the ball after bouncing over the line and being turned on his back. Jordan Kahu added the goal and the ignominy of being nilled evaporated.
Nine minutes later and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck took a pass to speed twenty metres down the right wing and dive over by the corner flag. Kahu kicked the extras but New Zealand were still eighteen points.
Andrew Fifita bombed a chance in the dying minutes when he failed to ground a Thurston grubber and although they lost the second half it was a big Aussie win at the final hooter.
Despite a couple of second half tries for the Kiwis the Kangaroos never looked in any danger of losing the test. Their sublime first half performance was almost faultless and New Zealand had no answers to plenty of tough questions in both attack and defence. It's back to the drawing board for the Kiwis if they want to compete ahead of the World Cup later this year, meanwhile Australia more than cemented their position as favourites.