After the score-line had read 6-6 at halftime, the contest blew out as the Australians feasted on a surfeit of possession to score five tries and clear out for a 32-12 victory.
There was no getting away from the result but this was unquestionably a match which was tainted by the games officials.
Both Alex Glenn and Dean Whare could have been expected to have tries awarded which would have had the effect of putting the Kiwis in charge of the match at the break. It would have been no more than they deserved for they had put together a composed display in the opening 40 minutes.
Instead both would-be tries were ruled out, the understrength Kiwis making it to the break on only level terms and then by dint of Josh Hoffmans last-ditch try off a clever Frank Pritchard grubber (aided by one of those errors Billy Slater has a habit of making every now and then).
This was a Kiwi side robbed of debutant captain Simon Mannering, the Vodafone Warriors skipper ruled out late with a calf injury. Manlys Kieran Foran was given the captaincy and handled the pressure well but it would become evident, as the Kiwis found themselves under defensive duress, that Mannerings work-rate was sorely missed.
As well as Mannering, the Kiwis were also without experience and quality in the shape of Benji Marshall, Jeremy Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Kasiano, Gerard Beale, Krisnan Inu and Thomas Leuluai who were all unavailable for one reason or another.
Without them the young Kiwis did more than stand up to an Australian line-up brimming with so many of the games superstars.
The Australians dodged bullet after bullet, first through the Glenn and Whare would-be tries and then another close call when Frank Pritchard couldnt snare a try offered to him (and correctly disallowed).
It all changed in the second half as the home side benefited from a mortgage on possession, helped by repeat sets off the back of a couple of contentious penalties. The momentum was suddenly totally with the Kangaroos.
In fact, provisional stats indicated Australia had 21 sets in possession in the second half, completing 15 of them while the Kiwis had only 10 sets unthinkable and completed just three. In the 10 or so minutes from the 50th minute on, the Kiwis had no possession to speak of, the Kangaroos coming at them and again and again as they grabbed four tries in the space of 11 minutes. That killed the Kiwis and killed the contest.
At Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kangaroos 32 (Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis, Brett Morris, Luke Lewis, Darius Boyd, Justin Hodges tries; Cameron Smith 4 conversions).
Kiwis 12 (Josh Hoffman, Frank Pritchard tries; Shaun Johnson 2 conversions).
Referee: Ashley Klein.