SHAUN Johnson led New Zealand to an emphatic 30-12 victory over Australia in their Four Nations opener last night at Suncorp Stadium.
The halfback was outstanding in directing his troops around the park and took the game into his own hands when his side needed him most.
With the scores locked at 12-12 in the 48th minute, he grubbered from Australia's 10m line before regathering and scoring under the posts, then converted to give his side a six-point buffer.
The Kiwis were in four minutes later after Dean Whare caught a Kieran Foran cross-field bomb. Johnson converted again and it was 24-12.
Australia had no answers, resorting to some grubby play through frustration.
The Kiwis sealed it in the 70th minute when Jason Knightingale scored in the corner following a knock-on.
Foran was full of praise for his men after his first win over Australia.
"It is unbelievable and I have dreamt of this moment from when I was a kid," he said.
"The crowd put up the Kiwi chant late in the match and that really got us home.
"We knew they were blooding five rookies and wanted to try a few things and keep the pressure on and I thought we did that.
"Shaun Johnson was hitting them perfect tonight and I thought he played sensationally."
Australian captain Cameron Smith was philosophical about the loss and refused to use injuries during the game to five-eighth Daly Cherry-Evans and star fullback Greg Inglis as an excuse.
"We had a good enough side to win but they were better than us," he said.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.