Opinion: Kiwis vs Kangaroos - New Zealand player ratings

OPINION: The NZ Kiwis defied the odds, upsetting the Kangaroos 26-24 at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.

The hosts outscored the world champions five tries to four in a performance that will likely win back some fans, after last year's disappointing World Cup campaign.

It's their first win under coach Michael Maguire in just his second match in charge and their first win against their trans-Tasman rivals since 2015, snapping a five-game losing streak against the Kangaroos.

Here's how the Kiwis players rated for their performances:

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (c) 9
The Kiwis captain was outstanding in his first match in charge of the national side. He set up the first try, ran for 139m and always looked dangerous.

He would have done his great-grandfather Steve Watene - a former Kiwis captain - very proud.

Ken Maumalo 7

Ken Maumalo was denied a first half try by the chalk.
Ken Maumalo was denied a first half try by the chalk. Photo credit: Photosport

The Warriors winger scored his first test try and was denied one also. As usual, he was strong, carrying the ball for 129m, but otherwise quiet.

Esan Marsters 6

Esan Masters scored a crucial second half try.
Esan Masters scored a crucial second half try. Photo credit: Photosport

The young centre wasn't involved much in the first half, but scored a second-half try that gave the Kiwis an eight-point cushion.

Joseph Manu 8
The debutant struggled early, as the Kangaroos attacked down his edge, but as the game wore on, the Tokoroa kid grew in confidence. He scored a try and was denied a try-assist just before the break.

He set up a brilliant try for Jordan Rapana late in the match.

Jordan Rapana 6
Like Manu, the Raiders winger was exposed early on defence, but bounced back. He scored New Zealand's fifth try and finished with 152 running metres.

Shaun Johnson 8
The man of the match was playing in an unusual position at five-eighth, but thrived in the role. He was quiet with the ball early, but deadly in other areas.

Made 13 tackles, kicked more than 500m and played a key role in setting up two of his side's tries.

Kodi Nikorima 6
The halfback had very few opportunities in the match, but he played well alongside  Johnson. He made 21 tackles, which is a decent number for someone in his position. 

Jesse Bromwich 8
The Storm prop was a busy man in his first test in almost 18 months. Finished with 137 run metres and formed a strong front-row pairing with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, which England will be worrying about.

Brandon Smith 9

Brandon Smith scored a try on debut.
Brandon Smith scored a try on debut. Photo credit: AAP

The debutant hooker was outstanding. Scored an excellent try out of dummy half and was questionably denied a second late in the match.

He has a bright future representing his country.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was outstanding for the Kiwis.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was outstanding for the Kiwis. Photo credit: Photosport

Fresh off the NRL Grand Final, the experienced forward ran for 182m, the most of any player on the field. One of the best tests he has played.

Kevin Proctor 6
A decent performance in his first test back. Wasn't involved much on attack, but made his presence felt on defence, making 34 tackles.

Isaac Liu 8
With so many players playing well around him, it was tough to notice his impact from the stands, but he ran for 142m and overall had a strong showing on both sides of the ball. Tireless.

James Fisher-Harris 7
The Panthers forward was excellent holding down the middle of the field. Was steady  in both attack and defence in his first test on home soil.


Kenny Bromwich 5
Had very few chances off the bench, but still made 20 tackles.

Leeson Ah Mau 7
Didn't really put a foot wrong, but his performance was overshadowed by the brilliance of the others around him. Didn't miss a tackle and was close to 100 running metres.

Martin Taupau 8
His energy off the bench helped swing momentum New Zealand's way.

Lifted the intensity in the first half, as his side started to dominate. Finished with 119m and put on several brutal hits. 

Adam Blair 5
Like Kenny Bromwich, Blair had limited chances. Played well though and is always a strong leader among the team. 

Ben Francis is a digital sports producer for Newshub.