Only six of the Kiwis’ playing squad had experienced Test victory over the Kangaroos before Saturday night’s superb 30-12 Four Nations-opening win at Suncorp Stadium.
Hooker Thomas Leuluai was able to celebrate his fourth success against the Australians. His first was after his Test debut in 2003 when the Kiwis stunned the Kangaroos 30-16 at North Harbour Stadium – the day centre Clinton Toopi scored a hat-trick – while he was also in the line-ups for both the 2008 Rugby League World Cup final triumph and the 2010 Four Nations final victory.
Captain Simon Mannering, front rower Adam Blair and interchange forward Greg Eastwood also played in the 2008 and 2010 wins while winger Jason Nightingale and centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall were involved in the 2010 Four Nations triumph.
It was Stephen Kearney’s third win against the Kangaroos as coach (2008, 2010 and 2014) while he also played in two winning Kiwi sides against the Australians in 1997 and 1999. Only Jim Amos has had more Test wins as Kiwi coach against Australia (four in 1952 and 1953).
For the rest of the players used on Saturday night it was their first winning experience against Australia – fullback Peta Hiku, winger Gerard Beale, centre Dean Whare, standoff Kieran Foran, halfback Shaun Johnson, prop Jesse Bromwich, second rower Kevin Proctor, loose forward Jason Taumalolo and interchange forwards Lewis Brown, Martin Taupau and Tohu Harris.
It was only the Kiwis’ sixth Test win against Australia since the turn of the century and the just the 13th in 67 internationals against their bitter rivals stretching back to 1983 when the Graham Lowe-coached New Zealanders stunned the Kangaroos 19-12 at Lang Park. That match has become the starting point for the modern era. For 12 years before that win the Kiwis had put together a galling run of 14 straight defeats following the 24-3 win against Australia at Carlaw Park.
This latest success provided one of the Kiwis’ biggest winning margins in history against the Kangaroos ranking behind the 49-25 second Test win in 1952, the 24-0 Tri Nations final win in 2005, the 24-3 victory in 1971 and the 25-5 first Test success in 1953. It equalled the winning margin in the third Test of the 1985 series (18-0 at Carlaw Park) and the North Harbour Stadium Test in 1997 (30-12).
Saturday night’s opening round of the Four Nations attracted a huge crowd of 47,813 with fans treated to two memorable contests (although Australian supporters might disagree).
In the early game England was fully extended before accounting for a thrilling Toa Samoa side 32-26.
Vodafone Warriors players collected man of the match honours in the two games – fullback Sam Tomkins for England and Johnson for the Kiwis.
Four Nations | Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
AUSTRALIA v NEW ZEALAND
Australia 12 (Beau Scott, Greg Inglis tries; Cameron Smith 2 conversions).
New Zealand 30 (Kevin Proctor, Lewis Brown, Shaun Johnson, Dean Whare, Jason Nightingale tries; Shaun Johnson 5 conversions).
Referee: Phil Bentham (England).
Australia | 1 Greg Inglis; 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Dylan Walker, 5 Daniel Tupou; 6 Daly Cherry-Evans, 7 Cooper Cronk; 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Sam Thaiday; 11 Beau Scott, 12 Ryan Hoffman; 13 Greg Bird. Interchange: 14 Robbie Farah, 15 Aidan Guerra, 16 Josh Papalii, 17 Corey Parker. Coach: Tim Sheens.
New Zealand | 1 Peta Hiku; 2 Jason Nightingale, 3 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 4 Dean Whare, 19 Gerard Beale; 6 Kieran Foran, 7 Shaun Johnson; 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Thomas Leuluai, 10 Adam Blair; 11 Simon Mannering (c), 12 Kevin Proctor; 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Lewis Brown, 15 Greg Eastwood, 16 Martin Taupau, 17 Tohu Harris, 18 Suaia Matagi. Coach: Stephen Kearney.
Key stats | Team
Completed sets | New Zealand 32/42 (76%), Australia 22/35 (63%).
Total runs and metres gained | New Zealand 199/1757, Australia 1303/148.
Penalties conceded | New Zealand 4, Australia 5.
Line breaks | New Zealand 4, Australia 3.
Tackles Made | New Zealand 290, Australia 357.
Tackles missed | New Zealand 21, Australia 36.
Off loads | New Zealand 14, Australia 8.
Errors: New Zealand 12, Australia 12.
Individual stats | New Zealand
Most runs | Peta Hiku 20, Jason Nightingale 19, Jesse Bromwich 17, Shaun Kenny-Dowall 15, Martin Taupau 15, Simon Mannering 14, Greg Eastwood 13, Shaun Johnson 13,Jason Taumalolo 12, Tohu Harris 12
Most metres | Peta Hiku 210, Martin Taupau 159, Jesse Bromwich 146, Jason Nightingale 145, Jason Taumalolo 131,Greg Eastwood 125, Tohu Harris 124, Simon Mannering 118, Shaun Kenny-Dowall 117.
Most tackles |Simon Mannering 30, Kevin Proctor 30, Adam Blair 29, Tohu Harris 24, Thomas Leuluai 23, Martin Taupau 22
Most tackle breaks | Kevin Proctor 4, Jason Taumalolo 4, Jesse Bromwich 4, Shaun Johnson 4, Peta Hiku 4, Jason Nightingale 4.
Most off loads | Jesse Bromwich 4, Adam Blair 2, Martin Taupau 2.
ENGLAND v TOA SAMOA
England 32 (Michael Shenton, Kallum Watkins, Liam Farrell, Joel Tomkins, Sam Tomkins tries; Gareth Widdop 5 conversions, penalty).
Toa Samoa 26 (Pita Godinet 2, Isaac Liu, Daniel Vidot, Antonio Winterstein tries; Kyle Stanley 2 conversions; Ben Roberts conversion).
Halftime: 14-10 England.
Referee: Henry Perenara (New Zealand)
England | 1 Sam Tomkins; 2 Josh Charnley, 3 Kallum Watkins, 4 Michael Shenton, 5 Ryan Hall; 6 Gareth Widdop, 7 Matty Smith; 8 George Burgess, 9 Josh Hodgson, 10 James Graham (c); 11 Liam Farrell, 12 Joel Tomkins; 13 Joe Westerman. Interchange: 14 Daryl Clark, 15 Brett Ferres, 16 Tom Burgess, 17 Chris Hill. Coach: Steve McNamara.
Toa Samoa | 1 Tim Simona; 2 Antonio Winterstein, 3 Ricky Leutele, 4 Joey Leilua, 5 Daniel Vidot; 6 Ben Roberts, 7 Kyle Stanley; 8 Sam Tagataese, 9 Michael Sio, 10 David Fa’alogo; 11 Frank Pritchard, 12 Leeson Ah Mau; 13 Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14 Pita Godinet, 15 Jesse Sene-Lefao, 16 Isaac Liu, 17 Mose Masoe. Coach: Matt Parish.