Kiwis: Half a Century of Points Not Good Enough
Much sterner tests lie ahead but the New Zealand Rugby League team delivered an encouraging start to its defence of the World Cup with a 50-0 romp over the Cook Islands. The one-sided win was certainly better preparation for the tournament than that enjoyed by England and France, who both shockingly lost warm-up games to Italy and the US, respectively.
The Cup-holders never let the Cook Islanders into the game in racking up a half-century of unanswered points. But coach Stephen Kearney and captain Simon Mannering were both equivocal about the performance.
It was a good start, Kearney said, but there was a lack of cohesion – “there were parts of our game that were a bit rusty” – and he was looking for significant improvement ahead of the Kiwis’ opener against Samoa on Sunday.
Mannering criticised his side’s ball-handling and defence, despite holding the Cooks scoreless. He too warned that time was short to correct the deficiencies exposed during the game.
Bookies are ranking Australia as outright favourites at 4/11 to win the Cup, New Zealand, 4/1, a distant second, closely followed by hosts England at 6/1.