Kangaroos only at '75%, 80%', says Smith
RUGBY LEAGUE: Skipper Cameron Smith says the Kangaroos have plenty of room for improvement after holding on for a 14-8 Four Nations win over the Kiwis in Coventry.
As the only unbeaten side, the victory puts Australia a step closer to a place in the competition final at Anfield on November 20, with one preliminary match against England to come next week in London.
The Kangaroos were made to work overtime to register their third successive win over their trans-Tasman rivals.
"I think overall the performance tonight, we were probably at 75%, 80% of our capabilities,” Smith said.
"I think we built some good pressure at times but we allowed the Kiwis back into the game.”
Smith added that it was "a different” Kiwis side to the one the Kangaroos beat 26-6 in Perth last month.
"There are a few things I would like to improve on for the next time we play them, if we get the opportunity again,” he said.
Australia got to a 10-0 lead by the 15-minute mark and were in control until New Zealand's late comeback.
The Kangaroos' first try came after a series of penalties, with eventual man-of-the-match Blake Ferguson crossing out wide in the 10th minute.
Johnathan Thurston then finished off the good work of Michael Morgan, whose slashing run wrong-footed the New Zealand defence.
The Kiwis came alive in the last 10 minutes in a frenetic finish and came close to forcing what would have been an unlikely draw, with Shaun Johnson held up over the line in the 80th minute.
"It was a really good performance but not quite where we should be,” Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said.
"We would have liked to have gone on with the game when we could have, but that's New Zealand at the moment ... they find a way to be hanging out in the back end of the game.
"I thought we were fairly dominant for most of the game, but just couldn't put them away to be honest with you.
"It was a bit scary at the end of course, but I thought we did enough to win the game.”
England coach Wayne Bennett, meanwhile, said "there wasn't much to enjoy about” his team's 38-12 win over Scotland.
"We put ourselves under pressure in the first half and had to find a way to get out of it, which to their credit they did in the second half,” he said.
ARM SPORTS BUREAU