Rugby League World Cup 2013: New Zealand 2-34 Australia
New Zealand (2) 2
Australia (16) 34
- Slater 2, Cronk, B Morris 2
- Thurston 7
Australia produced a clinical performance as they thrashed holders New Zealand to win the World Cup at a sold-out Old Trafford.
It was a near-faultless display from the Kangaroos, who scored five unanswered tries and have now won the trophy 10 times.
Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk touched down and Johnathan Thurston kicked two penalties as the Kangaroos built a 16-2 lead at the break.
Slater scored seconds after the restart and Brett Morris twice as Australia hammered their opponents.
The Kiwis might have produced the tournament's most dramatic moment when they snatched a last-minute victory over England at Wembley last weekend, but they were a poor second against the Kangaroos in Manchester.
All they had to show for their efforts was Shaun Johnson's early penalty that briefly levelled the scores at 2-2 but the two sides were anything but equal on the day.
The crowd of 74,468 was a record for an international fixture and most seemed to be backing New Zealand, but they had little choice except to admire the breathtaking play of the Kangaroos.
Australia built pressure from the start and never looked in any trouble as a brilliant kicking display and some superb attacking invention enabled them to avenge their defeat in the 2008 final in Brisbane.
The Kangaroos held the World Cup from 1975 until they lost it five years ago but they have been peerless in 2013.
They scored more tries (48) than any other team at the tournament, had the joint-top try-scorer in Jarryd Hayne and Brett Morris (nine) and did not concede a try after their opening match against England.
Australia made their intentions clear from the very start at Old Trafford, as they tore into the Kiwis with a series of brutal tackles.
Their physicality up front was complemented by a ruthless kicking game, perfectly illustrated by an inch-perfect grubber from skipper Cameron Smith that forced a goal-line drop-out.
They soon had the lead through a Thurston penalty before Johnson levelled after a high tackle by Smith.
The reply did not signify any lasting resistance however, as Australia continued to play with a relentless precision.
Slater, restored at full-back after recovering from the knee injury he sustained in the quarter-final win over the USA, brilliantly caught a high cross-field kick from Thurston before touching down.
Australia almost extended their advantage when Hayne kicked for Cronk to touch down after Kiwi winger Manu Vatuvei, another player back after injury, spilled a high ball.
However, after a lengthy referral, video referee Ashley Klein ruled that Cronk had been held up by a brilliant last-ditch tackle from hooker Isaac Luke.
Cronk was not to be denied, though, and scored minutes later when he latched on to a kick from Darius Boyd after the Kangaroos had sliced open their opponents down the left side.
Thurston, who surpassed countryman Mick Cronin's record of 309 points in internationals during the final, converted that try and added another penalty as the Aussies built a 16-2 lead at the break.
A try in the first minute after the restart, which involved Smith, Thurston and Boyd before Slater, a losing finalist in 2008, touched down, took the result beyond doubt.
More brilliant kicking from Morris and Hayne allowed the former to slide over and score as the scoreline started to take on an embarrassing appearance for the defending champions.
It would have got even worse had the otherwise impeccable Thurston not knocked on after a stray Sonny Bill Williams pass gifted possession to the Kangaroos.
But Australia did score their fifth try after another pass from Williams was intercepted by Hayne, who tore downfield before passing for Morris to score again.
Man of the match Thurston converted to take his tally to seven from seven in the game as Australia closed out for a famous victory.
New Zealand: Locke, Tuivasa-Sheck, Whare, Goodwin, Vatuvei, Foran, Johnson, Waerea-Hargreaves, Luke, Bromwich, Mannering, Williams, Taylor. Replacements: Nuuausala, Kasiano, Matulino, Glenn.
Australia: Slater, B. Morris, Inglis, Hayne, Boyd, Thurston, Cronk, Scott, Smith, Tamou, Bird, Thaiday, Gallen. Replacements: Cherry-Evans, Papalii, Fifita, Parker.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (England)
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