With the final already confirmed as a rematch before a ball was kicked last night, the Kiwis would have wanted to cast more doubt into the minds of the Australian side, but started the match with two kicks out-on-the full in the early exchanges.
Despite not leading on the scoreboard at any point during the match, the Kiwis could certainly be a chance of taking the title on November 4 with some improved attack and less errors. They'll certainly revel in the home ground advantage.
For the Australians, it was a solid performance with all players stating their case for selection in the battle for the trophy next week.
Embattled fullback James Tedesco showed his experience on the international stage with a game-high 203 run metres, as well as setting up the opening try with a silky grubber kick in behind the line.
His long-considered rival for the position, Dylan Edwards, had a solid outing too but mixed in two uncharacteristic errors. It's unlikely that the lapses will cost him a spot in the decider.
Sydney Roosters' front rower Lindsay Collins continued his breakout year, scoring a double and demonstrating how working on effort areas can pay off, finding himself in the right spot at the right time on multiple occasions, as well as running for 124m in a 45 minute outing.
Maligned winger Valentine Holmes was stellar, striking goal conversions crisply all night and opening the scoring with a pure-effort try, outrunning speedster Ronaldo Mulitalo to grab the four-pointer.
2022 Dally M medallist Nicho Hynes was utilised for 25 minutes, and with many questioning where he'd fit in, he strangely entered the game in the front row. Eventually, he provided coverage at lock for Isaah Yeo (64 mins) and had a number of quality touches, particularly laying on a silky pass for Cameron Murray to streak away and score untouched.
The New Zealand Kiwis appeared to have the measure of the electric Kotoni Staggs. He isn't renowned for passing out to his winger, making it easier to shut down shift plays. On the other side of the park, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow laid claim to being the best centre in the world right now, electrifying in attack and comprehensively shutting former Golden Boot winner Joseph Manu out repeatedly.
With all said and done for the regular rounds, here is our best 17 (pending fitness and availability) to take on the Kiwis in the final:
Selwyn Cobbo (Brisbane Broncos) - We've opted for Dylan Edwards out of position to take Selwyn Cobbo's wing spot here, based on Edwards' talk in defence, effort in kick-returns, big-game experience, reliability and ball-playing ability. Additionally, the coverage for any potential injury to Tedesco puts him ahead for the big one.
Thomas Flegler (Brisbane Broncos) - Flegler has had a massive year as one of the best on field for the State of Origin-winning Queensland side and Grand Finalists Brisbane Broncos. Already down in the pecking order behind Haas and Fa'asuamaleaui, his two handling errors and three missed tackles in a 35-minute stint confirms that he should miss this one.
Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles) - You pick Trbojevic for reliability, experience, leadership, defensive resolve and comradery. But with the likes of Tedesco, Edwards, Hunt and Cherry-Evans, you've got experience and leadership. He deserves his Kangaroos jumper, but there is a considerable forward pack with exuberance, footwork and line-breaking ability that Trbojevic simply doesn't offer anymore.
Nicho Hynes (Cronulla Sharks) - Not technically missing out in the 18th Man slot, Hynes simply doesn't fill any gaps in a match without the need for the activation of a replacement. With Munster, Cherry-Evans and Hunt, there are already three halves available for two spots. Grant, Hunt and Cotter all provide experience in dummy half, while Tedesco, Edwards, Tabuai-Fidow, Holmes and Munster all have fullback on their resumes, which is the only other position Hynes would offer value in.