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Australia vs New Zealand Four Nations Final Preview and Team News - Old rivals collide for Four Nations crown

Andrew Hendrie 17 Nov 2016
  • Australia take on New Zealand in the Four Nations final on Sunday
  • Kangaroos unbeaten through the group stage
  • New Zealand defending champions and have a history of taking down the Kangaroos in finals
Australia face New Zealand in the Four Nations final on Sunday

Australia and New Zealand renew their storied rugby league rivalry when they collide in the 2016 Four Nations final on Sunday.

The Kangaroos head into this encounter on the back of a comfortable 36-18 victory over host nation England last week, while the Kiwis were held to a shock 18-18 draw with minnows Scotland.

The game will be played at Anfield in Liverpool with kick off scheduled for 1.30am AEDT on Monday (2.30pm local, Sunday). It will be broadcast live on Channel 9 in Australia.



Match Preview

Australia have cruised into the Four Nations final with a perfect three wins from three and improving with every match they’ve played. New Zealand beat England by one point, lost against the Kangaroos and then stumbled to a draw with debutants Scotland in their last outing. On paper, and with those results in mind, there should only be one clear winner. But rugby league isn’t played on paper.

New Zealand have made a habit of instantly erasing their previous form and lifting in tournament finals against Australia. Case in point:

2005 Tri-Nations Final - After splitting their group clashes at one win apiece, New Zealand go on to demolish Australia 24-0 in the final. Their triumph equalled the record for their biggest win over Australia and marked only the second time they kept the Kangaroos scoreless.

2008 World Cup Final - Australia conquered the Kiwis 30-6 earlier in the tournament, but New Zealand won when it mattered most, registering a 34-20 victory and capturing the World Cup title.

2010 Four Nations - This time New Zealand lost 34-20 to Australia in the group before a Billy Slater howler at the back helped the Kiwis prevail 16-12 and hand them the Four Nations title - which they are now attempting to defend on Sunday afternoon in Anfield.

With all that in mind, Australia will have to be on high alert against a Kiwis side that has proven history against them in major tournament finals.

But, nevertheless, current form still has a part to play, and Australia’s level has been far greater than that of their Kiwi counterparts. The Kangaroos finished strongly in an 18-point win over England, while New Zealand scraped a draw against Scotland.

In team news, David Kidwell is set to choose between either Te Maire Martin or Tohu Harris as his starting five-eighth following an injury to Thomas Leuluai, while Mal Meninga will have to name a replacement for experienced forward Sam Thaiday, who suffered a facial fracture last week.

You can’t with a clear conscience tip against Australia, but the Kiwis challenging for the title won’t be a surprise in the slightest. I think this will either be a complete blow-out win for Australia, or a nail-biter that goes down to the wire. Given New Zealand’s great record in tournament finals, I’m going the latter. But this time, the Kangaroos will emerge victorious.


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Australia vs New Zealand Four Nations Final Preview and Team News - Old rivals collide for Four Nations crown

Australia and New Zealand renew their storied rugby league rivalry when they collide in the 2016 Four Nations final on Sunday.

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