Australian Kangaroos anticipate improved NZ Kiwis

They have outscored New Zealand by a combined margin of 42 points to six in their last two encounters, but the Kangaroos believe they will face a much stronger Kiwi resistance this weekend in Coventry.

With Australia getting up for a 54-12 victory over Scotland in the opening round of tournament play last week and the Kiwis edging past England 17-16, the winner of the trans-Tasman Test on Sunday morning (AEDT) will inch closer to securing a spot in the Four Nations final.

But while the recent head-to-head history will mean the Kangaroos go into the match as hot favourites, interchange forward Sam Thaiday said his side were preparing to deal with the very best of what New Zealand have to offer on the international stage.

"They (the Kiwis) would be pretty disappointed with their performance in Perth, it was a little bit of a scrappy game, but I am not expecting the same team that we played in Perth," Thaiday said.

"We are into the tournament now and they will be doing all they can to win the trophy as well, so it is going to be a totally different team that we face.

"Big, strong, tough and an aggressive game [is what I am expecting].

"I think we are lucky enough that we played New Zealand before we came over here, that definitely helped us."

Australia and New Zealand met earlier this month in a warm-up Test in Perth, with the Kangaroos running out comfortable 26-6 winners.

The fact that Mal Meninga's men have leaked only one try in their last 160 minutes of football against New Zealand must have confidence levels peaking this week, yet halfback Cooper Cronk told NRL.com that the Kiwis were the type of team who would get better with each game.

"We tend to have met them in finals at tournaments like this and they have played some of their best football and have been successful on those occasions," Cronk said.

"But hopefully we are exactly the same as well and will get better as we go.

"I think whenever you play a team you always prepare as if they are going to play their best football.

"Like any game we will do our homework, prepare the best we possibly can and hopefully have some plans in play.

"You come up with plans and patterns of play to try and nullify their impact and I think we did a really good job in Perth against their strengths, and no doubt their strengths will be more of a threat this time around."

The New Zealand v Australia Test is the second match of the double-header at the Ricoh Arena this weekend, following the clash between England and Scotland which shapes as a must-win for both nations if they hope to maintain a chance of advancing to the final.

source: nrl.com
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