The Kiwis, the defending champions having beat the Kangaroos on their own patch back in 2008, simply had no answer to their opponents, who ran in five tries and made it a remarkable five consecutive games without conceding a single try.
Kearney said: “Australia‘s performance today was nothing short of outstanding.
“We just couldn’t get ourselves in to the contest. Their performance was pretty faultless, they gave us a real lesson.
“In terms of the tournament, I don’t think we could have done more. When you turn up and Australia play the way they did, we had to bring our best game. We didn’t threaten them at all with the footy in the first half, which we needed to, and without our best game it was always going to be tough. That was as good as I’ve seen Australia play.
“We’ve got some pretty young kids in there, they’re going to be hurt. There’s a few tears in there. You put all the effort and energy in for six weeks and you get no reward for it.
“For the younger players, it’s about taking the experience and saying that if you want to be in the black and white jersey in four years time, what Australia put up here today, that’s what it’s going to take.”
The winning margin was the biggest ever in a World Cup final, in front of what was an international record for a rugby league match, of 74,468.