New Zealand stun Australia as Kiwis inflict biggest-ever test defeat on Kangaroos to be crowned Pacific Cup champions

Ben Olawumi
New Zealand lift Pacific Cup

New Zealand are crowned the first-ever Pacific Cup champions after beating Australia - Alamy

New Zealand have been crowned the inaugural champions of the Pacific Cup after inflicting Australia’s biggest-ever test defeat on them, winning 30-0 earlier today in Hamilton.

Due to the way the fixtures fell and the result went, the two nations had squared off in the final group game last weekend over in Melbourne, with the Kangaroos running out 36-18 victors and subsequently topping the ladder.

In this morning’s final – the first-ever in the Pacific Championships – though, ex-Wigan Warriors head coach Michael Maguire led the Kiwis to silverware with a mammoth victory.

Mal Meninga’s world champions hadn’t lost a game since 2019, and hadn’t been nilled for close to 20 years. The last time the Aussies ended a game with no points to their name came back in November 2005 in Leeds during a Tri-Nations series involving Great Britain.

New Zealand stun Australia in Pacific Cup final

Highly uncharacteristically, the Kangaroos made 11 errors and missed a whopping 50 tackles at the FMG Stadium Waikato, finding themselves 12-0 down come the break.

Ronaldo Mulitalo grabbed the first try for New Zealand early on, leading a breakaway and finishing it off later on in the set.

The same man then denied the visitors with a huge hit on Valentine Holmes, who looked destined to get over from Daly Cherry-Evans’ looping pass out to the right. And just before half-time, Maguire’s men struck again to double their advantage with Jamayne Isaako crossing.

Dolphins star Isaako went over again come the restart, finishing in the corner acrobatically thanks to Jahrome Hughes’ cut-out pass, while Dylan Brown sent Matthew Timoko over to extend the score out to 24-0.

Isaako remained perfect with the boot throughout, and preserved his 100% record to put the icing on the cherry on top of the cake for New Zealand late on after Griffin Neame powered through the Aussie backline to get himself over underneath the sticks.

Papua New Guinea and Fiji square off tomorrow morning (November 5) in the final of the Pacific Bowl. All being well, the winner of that should be promoted up to the Pacific Cup group alongside Australia and New Zealand for 2024, with the newly-formed tournament operating in a similar style to football’s UEFA Nations League.

READ NEXT: Nine Super League stars playing in Pacific Championships finals this weekend, including seven for Papua New Guinea