Kangaroos v Kiwis: Five key points
The Kangaroos warmed up for the Four Nations with an utterly dominant 26-6 win over the Kiwis in Perth on Saturday night. Greg Inglis bagged a double for the victors and Darius Boyd extended his incredible record at international level while New Zealand's much vaunted forward pack failed to fire.
Perth loves its rugby league
The last time Australia played a match in Perth was way back in 1982. On that occasion, a four-try haul to Eric Grothe Sr inspired the Kangaroos to a 57-5 win over the Western Australian Firsts at Cannington Raceway. There were 3,000 people in attendance that day; a figure dwarfed at nib Stadium on Saturday evening. Despite some early showers, 20,283 passionate fans turned up to watch Australia and New Zealand renew their trans-Tasman rivalry in what turned out to be glorious conditions. Rugby league has been very well received whenever NRL matches have been taken to the west, and given the turnout on Saturday, the calls for a team in Perth will only grow louder.
Australia with all the momentum heading into Four Nations
The Kiwis might be the defending champions, but Australia will head into the Four Nations as heavy favourites when the tournament gets underway in a fortnight's time. New Zealand pipped the men in green and gold 22-18 in the final in Wellington two years ago but will head into this year's series on the back of consecutive losses to Australia. It is often said that the Kiwis take a while to warm up and generally prefer tournament style play as opposed to one-off Tests, and they'll be relying on that theory when they touch down in the UK later this month.
Boyd remains Australia's lucky charm
The stats surrounding Darius Boyd are simply outstanding. Saturday night's win was his 19th from as many games for Australia, including his 11th from 11 starts against the Kiwis. He has now scored 15 international tries, with nine of those against New Zealand, including the opening four-pointer in both matches against the black and whites in 2016. He mightn't be as flashy as Billy Slater or James Tedesco, but the Broncos custodian has developed into the most consistent No.1 in the game. The Kangaroos missed him big time in the 2014 Four Nations, and his presence in this year's instalment could be just what Australia needs to reclaim the trophy.
Valentine's day to remember
Valentine Holmes will forever be grateful that Josh Mansour decided to get married on October 15. Mansour's absence paved the way for the premiership-winning winger to make his international debut, and the Sharks flyer made the most of his opportunity. Playing in the unfamiliar position on the left wing, Holmes helped set up Greg Inglis for Australia's second try of the evening with a chip kick, before the roles were reversed early in the second half with the veteran centre turning provider for what will likely be the first of many four-pointers for Holmes in green and gold.
Hold your head high Martin Taupau
A midfield onslaught was always going to be New Zealand's modus operandi given the size of their pack, but for the most part, Martin Taupau was the only forward who troubled the opposition defensive line. The recently re-signed Sea Eagles prop was at his destructive best finishing with 129 metres from 10 carries to go with five vicious tackle breaks. He came up with a huge one-on-one tackle on Matt Gillett in the second half, made a big break down the middle and toyed with the Australian defence, only to be let down by a lack of support when he was looking to offload.
This article first appeared on NRL.com | Written by Martin Gabor