Rugby League: Kiwis shock Kangaroos with clinical performance

The NZ Kiwis have defied the odds to upset the Kangaroos 26-24 at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.

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 his second match in charge and they'll now head over to England full of confidence from their performance. 

It was also the first time since the 2015 ANZAC test that New Zealand have beaten Australia, snapping a five-game losing streak against their trans-Tasman rivals.

Fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak provided a solid captain's knock, with rookie hooker Brandon Smith also providing some spark. Returning duo Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor were vital in their first match for New Zealand since last year's ANZAC test.

The Kiwis finished the match with a 89 percent completion rate to go along with 58 percent possession, while Australia had a 75 percent completion rate and 42 percent possession.

Things didn't start well for the Kiwis though, as Latrell Mitchell put Valentine Holmes in for the game's opening try after just two minutes.

The world champions then lost debutant five-eighth Luke Keary, when he was knocked out, attempting to tackle Proctor.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Photo credit: Photosport

Once New Zealand wrestled their way into the match, they looked dominant, but they struggled to convert their opportunities in the red zone.

Eventually, their dominance with the ball paid off, when Ken Maumalo went over in the corner to score his first test try for the Kiwis.

The hosts continued to build pressure and were rewarded, as Manu wrestled the ball to the ground with five minutes left in the half.

Captain Watene-Zelezniak was denied a try right before the break, when the bunker deemed Manu knocked the ball on in the lead-up.

Australia made them pay and Dane Gagai scored right on half-time to give his side a 12-8 lead at the break.

It was an arm-wrestle to start the second half, but the Kiwis came out on top, with Brandon Smith sneaking over the line, as the Kiwis regained the lead.

New Zealand continued to apply pressure and extended their lead to eight, when Esan Marsters scored his second test try.

Manu Jordan
Joseph Manu offloads to Jordan Rapana for a Kiwis try. Photo credit: Photosport

With 13 minutes left, Manu set up Rapana in the right corner, with a magical one-handed off-load to all but seal the win for New Zealand.

Australia crossed for two late tries through forward Felise Kaufusi and fullback James Tedesco to set up a thrilling finish, but the crowd found their voice late to help the Kiwis survived the late Roos onslaught.

Earlier in the day, the Junior Kangaroos beat the Junior Kiwis 40-24 Kiwis, which was followed up with a narrow 26-24 win for the Jillaroos over the Kiwi Ferns.

Next up for the Kiwis is a three-test series against England in the UK.