Kearney: Semi-final intensity will benefit us

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney believes the nature of their semi-final victory over England will have a massive benefit ahead of Saturday’s World Cup final against Australia.

The holders will be out to defend their trophy at Old Trafford against a Kangaroos side that has gone more than 320 minutes without conceding a try in the tournament, going back to their first game against England.

Kearney’s side needed a last gasp converted try from half-back Shaun Johnson to deny England in last weekend’s game at Wembley, and they will now look to repeat their victory in the last final five years ago.

Kearney said: “The intensity we played last weekend was certainly of benefit to the group. 

“We were pushed obviously to the last 20 seconds, and it took a pretty brave performance from the lads to get themselves to the position where we could come out winners in that game.

“I have no doubt it’s going to be of benefit, but our performance in that game wasn’t really very good at certain stages of the match, so we’ve got some real improving that we need to do, and that’s been our focus this week.

“Regardless of Australia‘s game in the semi-finals and how they’ve gone before, we’re all aware of what they’re going to throw at us, and we know that we have to bring our best performance.

“We do start as underdogs, but the lads are confident that if they can bring their best performance on Saturday, then we give ourselves a great opportunity.

“The record’s there, we’ve had two wins (against Australia) in the last five years, so for us it’s making sure we turn up and give it our best.”

The Kiwis have scored 206 points and conceded 56 in their five wins in the tournament so far, while the Kangaroos have racked up 238 – including 126 in their two knockout games – conceding just 22.

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