Kangaroos Yet To Reach Potential
After claiming a third-straight Test victory over New Zealand on Sunday morning (AEDT), Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith said his side was still only playing to around three quarters of their ability.
The 14-8 win at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry places the Kangaroos as the outright front-runners at the 2016 Four Nations, with the world champions possessing the only two-win record after the first two rounds of matches.
But despite his side controlling the majority of the match against the world No.1 Kiwis, Smith said Australia still haven't reached anywhere near their potential.
"I think overall the performance tonight, we were probably at 75 per cent, 80 per cent of our capabilities," Smith said.
"I think we built some good pressure at times but we allowed the Kiwis back into the game.
"It is nice to come away with a victory against the Kiwis with some work to do.
"We weren't at our best and it was a different (New Zealand) side to what we played against in Perth.
"We played quite well for the most part of the match, but there are a few things I would like to improve on for the next time we play them, if we get the opportunity again."
The Kangaroos were a class above the Kiwis through the opening 15 minutes, scoring through eventual man-of-the-match Blake Ferguson and halfback Johnathan Thurston to establish a 10-0 lead.
But from that point on Australia weren't able to score another try, and near the back end of the match came close to allowing New Zealand back into the game.
With just seconds remaining on the clock Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson weaved through and got over the line, with some desperate cover defence the only thing preventing him from grounding the ball and putting the Kiwis within a conversion of stealing a draw.
While pleased with the win, Australia coach Mal Meninga said he expected more from his side at this stage of the Four Nations tournament.
"It was a really good performance but not quite where we should be," Meninga said.
"We would have liked to have gone on with the game when we could have, but that's New Zealand at the moment… they find a way to be hanging out in the back end of the game.
"I thought we were fairly dominant for most of the game, but just couldn't put them away to be honest with you.
"It was a bit scary at the end of course, but I thought we did enough to win the game."
The victory puts Australia one step closer to a place in the Four Nations final at Anfield on November 20, with the Kangaroos to face England in London next week.
This article first appeared on NRL.com