Johnson inspires New Zealand to Four Nations glory

Johnson inspires New Zealand to Four Nations glory

New Zealand are the new Four Nations champions after beating Australia 22-18 in a pulsating final on Saturday.

Shaun Johnson gave a masterclass in Wellington, the 24-year-old half-back scoring one try and having a big influence on every major play as the Kiwis held off a late fightback from Australia to secure a second straight win over their great rivals.

This represents the first time in over 60 years that New Zealand have beaten Australia twice in a row after victory in their Four Nations opener last month, and also exacts a measure of revenge for the Kangaroos' crushing 34-2 success in the 2013 World Cup final.

Michael Jennings opened the scoring in the 11th minute after the Kiwis failed to clean up a Cooper Cronk chip. 

New Zealand needed a couple of penalties to earn any field position and a Shaun Kenny-Dowall left-foot step sparked their first try. 

After the Roosters centre's line-break, Johnson spotted space on the right and quick hands from Dean Whare put Jason Nightingale over in the corner. 

Johnson's sideline conversion levelled the scores after 25 minutes. 

Three minutes later the home side went ahead for the first time with a Johnson penalty, and New Zealand’s second four-pointer shortly after was a moment of pure magic. 

Johnson received the ball in no space under the Australian posts, but jinked past three would-be tacklers before throwing a 30 metre cut out pass to Manu Vatuvei, who powered over in the corner. 

Another sideline conversion from the Warriors half-back put the Kiwis 14-6 up at the break. 

Sione Mata'utia's first Test try got Australia back into the game after the interval, before Martin Taupau picked up a neck injury running the ball out of Kiwi territory. 

That stopped New Zealand in their tracks temporarily, before the brilliant Johnson once again took the game by the scruff of the neck to set up Greg Inglis for another score.

The Kiwis led 22-12 with 15 minutes remaining with Vatuvei's second try seemingly putting the result beyond doubt.

But Australia had other ideas, as Ben Hunt scored a converted try with four minutes remaining. 

There was then more late drama, as teenager Mata'utia thought he had his second try of the game, only for the referee to call it back for a knock on to enable New Zealand to hold on for a historic victory. 

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