Terrifying Aussie teen makes his mark
Teenager Payne Haas delivered the world a scary glimpse of his future as Australia’s next generation landed their first blow with a 26-4 dismantling of New Zealand.
Fielding their least experienced Test team in 16 years, the Kangaroos completely outplayed the Kiwis in front of 18,104 fans on Friday night. The result avenged last year’s shock loss to the Kiwis in Auckland and came with Australia fielding five debutants and just four players from their 2017 World Cup winning side.
Haas was easily the best of the first-timers, dominating the middle with 153 metres in just 13 runs as became Australia’s youngest forward in 28 years. It comes after the 19-year-old has enjoyed a breakout year at Brisbane, named the NRL’s rookie of the year and making his State of Origin debut for NSW.
Josh Papalii, David Klemmer and rookie Paul Vaughan were also powerful, each running more than the Kiwis’ best middle in Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Australia had just 94 Tests between them before kick off to New Zealand’s 186, but that didn’t show on the field.
“It’s scary how good all of our players can be,” coach Mal Meninga said. “They’re still pretty young. Daly (Cherry-Evans) is (the oldest at) 31. They’ve all got plenty of years left in them.
“That’s the really pleasing part of this whole week and the way we played. They’re going to be around a long time.
“It’s new beginnings when you talk about the Aussie side. We have a lot of new players in our squad. But I still think we’ve got a lot of experience as well.”
A bullocking Payne Haas was unstoppable on Friday night.Source:AAP
Cherry-Evans controlled the side nicely, outgunning Kiwis half Shaun Johnson who endured a difficult night in the black-and-white.
The Kangaroos’ first try came through an intercept, when Latrell Mitchell easily took a Johnson pass and put debutant Josh Addo-Carr away from inside his own end.
Tyson Frizell skipped over for Australia’s next, as he stepped onto a Cherry-Evans short ball and pushed his way over the line.
After New Zealand scored through Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Australia were again the beneficiaries of another intercept after the break.
The ball this time went through eight sets of hands on the last tackle, before Damien Cook collected an Adam Blair offload and went 80 metres to score. Cook was man of the match and in the thick of the action again moments later.
After Johnson gave away a 20-metre tap with a poor bomb, the Kangaroos hooker stepped out of dummy-half late in the set and put James Tedesco under the posts.
“The harder we tried the worse we got,” Kiwis captain Benji Marshall said. “Trying to throw the ball around … They definitely took advantage of the opportunities. We didn’t give ourselves the best opportunity to win that game.”
It capped off a dominant performance, as the Kangaroos got through the match unscathed ahead of next week’s clash with Tonga in Auckland.