AUSTRALIA coach Tim Sheens's job is now under serious threat after his team became the first Kangaroos outfit since 1953 to lose three games in a row to New Zealand.
The men in green and gold were humbled 26-12 in front of 32,681 fans at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, with the Kiwis' defence outstanding.
The Kiwis' next goal is the coveted No.1 title in the world, which they will earn if they beat England away later this year.
Australia enjoyed a stack of possession inside its opposition's 20-metre zone, but some courageous last-ditch defence kept the hosts at bay on many occasions.
The Kiwis' brilliant try right on half-time looked to be the killer blow, after playing some dazzling football in the final minute of the stanza. A slick movement saw winger Jason Nightingale kick ahead, with Kangaroos fullback Greg Inglis failing to bat the ball dead, and Shaun Kenny-Dowall on the spot to score. That gave New Zealand a 26-6 halftime lead.
The Kangaroos threw everything at their Trans-Tasman opponents in the second half, but could only manage one try in that period to Will Chambers, giving them a glimmer of hope after 58 minutes.
Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson - who has had an up and down season for the Warriors - was brilliant for his country, playing a hand in all four of his team's first-half tries and scoring one himself.
New Zealand's victory was its first mid-season triumph over Australia since 1998, the defeat made worse with Kangaroos back-rower Greg Bird put on report for a lifting tackle on Nightingale.
NEW ZEALAND 26 (M Vatuvei 2, S Johnson, S Kenny-Dowall tries; S Johnson 5 goals) def AUSTRALIA 12 (S Thaiday, W Chambers tries; J Thurston 2 goals). Crowd: 32,681 at Suncorp Stadium yesterday.
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