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A Johnathan Thurston masterclass helped the Kangaroos bring the Rugby League World Cup back to Australia with a 34-2 thumping of New Zealand at a packed Old Trafford in Manchester.

The Kangaroos five-eighth and Cowboys co-captain won his fourth man-of-the-match award in five appearances, kicked seven goals from seven attempts and broke Michael Cronins 31-year-old record for most points for Australia in Test football.

Along with North Queensland teammates Matthew Scott, James Tamou and Brent Tate, he also became a world champion for the first time to end off a terrific tournament that saw their side not concede a try in their last five matches almost seven hours of football.

Scott and Tamou were tremendous up front for Australia whose forward pack won the early ground battle convincingly and never let up over the 80 minutes as coach Tim Sheens made great use of his 12 interchanges.

When he came off for the final time, Scott had a match-high 142 metres, while Tamou tallied 98m, to go with 21 tackles, and was able to climb into the grandstand and bring new son Brooklyn down to the bench for the final stages of the emphatic victory.

In front of a crowd of almost 75,000, the largest ever for an international league match, it didnt take long for Thurston to start adding to his Kangaroos points haul, which started the afternoon five points adrift of Cronins 309.

He slotted over a penalty goal to give his team a lead after five minutes after Billy Slater was impeded on a kick chase.

The biggest blow early on for the Kiwis, however, was the loss of winger Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, who carried an ankle problem into the final and then only lasted eight minutes before he limped off with the aid of two NZ trainers.

He didnt return, forcing interchange forward Alex Glenn into a backline role and leaving them a man short for almost the full match.

Kiwi halfback Shaun Johnson levelled up with a penalty goal after 15 minutes - the first points Australia had conceded in over three matches - but it wasnt long before the favourites were back in front.

Thurston floated a last-tackle crosskick to his right, Billy Slater climbed highest and touched down to put the Kangaroos 8-2 ahead thanks to JTs conversion.

The Australians had looked to have scored with an equally spectacular play in the 26th minute after Cronk collected an incredible kick from Hayne.

But video referee Ashley Klein controversially ruled no try, judging that Andrew Fifita had made illegal late contact with Issac Luke as the Kangaroos halfback gathered possession.

At his scheming best, Thurston also had a strong hand in his teams second try, shedding a tackler to start a move down the left that finished with Cooper Cronk fielding a grubber kick from Darius Boyd to grab four more points.

Thurston curved over the conversion from 15 metres in from the sideline to move a point ahead of Cronin and have the Kangaroos 12 clear of the Kiwis.

Another JT penalty approaching half time boosted the lead to more than two converted tries, a more than fair indication of the difference between the two teams.

The gap blew out even more within 50 seconds of the restart, with Smith, Thurston and Boyd combining in a shortside play that caught out the Kiwis and ended with Slaters second for the afternoon.

With the title just about secured, the Kangaroos main attention went on keeping their line intact and they did that job without too many tremors.

RLIF player of the year Sonny-Bill Williams was nowhere near the threat he had been in the preliminary games and even threw an intercept pass for a Brett Morris try that provided the final try for the Australians.

It was the second leg of a double for the winger who finished off a spectacular last-tackle play from the Kangaroos that started in their own half with an offload from Josh Papalii and included a kick ahead from Jarryd Hayne.
Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.