Australia have gotten the Mal Meninga-era off to a winning start with a comfortable 16-0 shutout of a depleted New Zealand unit in their annual Test.
In front of a 27,724-strong crowd in Newcastle on Friday night, Darius Boyd and Greg Inglis crossed in the first half before Blake Ferguson ensured the hosts snapped their three-game losing streak against the Kiwis.
However, the Kangaroos were far from their best against the world No.1 Kiwis, who were missing at least 10 players through injury and suspension.
NZ regulars Kieran Foran, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Manu Vatuvei, Simon Mannering, Peta Hiku, and Issac Luke were missing from the side that defeated the Kangaroos in the corresponding fixture in 2015.
A late try to Ferguson and a penalty goal to Cameron Smith were all the home side had to show in a dour second half despite enjoying at least 50 plays inside the Kiwis’ red zone.
Controversial Kangaroos debutant Semi Radradra had an inauspicious first outing in green and gold – he was sin-binned for pushing Kevin Proctor on a seventh-minute live ball in-goal.
However, the Kiwis failed to take advantage of the extra man, and instead conceded first points when Boyd slid over after numerous attacks on the Kiwis’ left edge.
Inglis extended the lead by burning Tohu Harris in the 32nd minute.
Veteran spine Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston marshalled the Kangaroos with relative ease throughout the match, while the reborn Ferguson had some nice touches on the right flank.
Paul Gallen was the pick of the forwards, running a game-high 232 metres.
For New Zealand, fullback Jordan Kahu tried hard behind a beaten pack.
Kiwis forward Adam Blair was put on report for a 62nd-minute chicken wing on clubmate Sam Thaiday.