23 Nov 2008

Kiwis stun Australia to win World Cup

6:16 am on 23 November 2008

New Zealand have won the Rugby League World Cup in the biggest upset in the tournament's history, stunning Australia 34-20 in Brisbane.

Trailing 16-12 at the break, the Kiwis overpowered the highly fancied Kangaroos in the second half to run out convincing winners, scoring six tries to four - including a crucial penalty try with just over 10 minutes remaining that broke the hearts of the home side.

Australia had dominated the tournament and were overwhelming favourites heading into the match, but they were outplayed by a more enthusiastic and more composed New Zealand side, who had gone down to Australia 30-6 in the pool stage.

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney says the period after halftime was where the game was decided.

Australia took a 10-0 lead with international player of the year Billy Slater brillianlty setting up spectacular tries for skipper Darren Lockyer and winger David Williams.

Lockyer had the chance to make it 16-0 but dropped the ball over the line when a try seemed certain and New Zealand hit back with tries by Jeremy Smith and Jerome Ropati to make it 12-10.

Lockyer restored Australia's lead with his second try before the break but New Zealand took command when Lance Hohaia touched down to put them ahead again and five-eighth Benji Marshall intercepted a wayward Slater pass to score out wide.

Australia came back with a try to Greg Inglis, but with 10 minutes to go winger Joel Monaghan tackled Hohaia without the ball near the line and the referee awarded a penalty try to the Kiwis, who added a try by Adam Blair in the closing minutes.