Having just a week prior been among the best on ground in a convincing win over New Zealand, Harry Grant was left to rue errors at crucial stages which contributed to Australia's record Test defeat on Saturday.
After coming on for Ben Hunt in the 29th minute of the Pacific Championships decider, when the Kiwis led just 6-0, the Storm and Maroons rake struggled to make an impact and went on to make three errors in his 38-minute stint.
Behind a forward pack which was well beaten by their opposition on the day, the 25-year-old's renowned running game was almost not existent, with two carries for three metres, while in defence he missed five tackles.
“We struggled to build pressure and I felt like I contributed to that by making a couple of errors and not contributing to the way we wanted to play,” Grant told NRL.com following his side’s 30-0 defeat.
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“We didn’t have momentum [like the week before] and we just didn’t wrestle it back. We had moments there which were 50-50 and could have changed momentum, but they went in New Zealand’s favour.
It’s hard to finish the season with a game like that which you will dwell on.Harry Grant
“During the year in the NRL you know you have next week to bounce back, so this might linger a little bit.”
After missing just 22 tackles against the Kiwis in their 36-18 win in week three, Australia missed 51 at FMG Stadium Waikato, with Isaah Yeo – who made a game-high 41 tackles – the only member of his side who didn’t register a miss in the final.
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While that scenario of two sides facing each other twice in the space of a week is seen occasionally at NRL level, when teams might play each other in the last round of the regular season and then again in the finals, Grant said it created a unique challenge tactically which the Kiwis ultimately handled better.
“It’s something you need to be wary of when you have a win against a team and then have to play them the following week,” Grant said.
“They had come off a loss so knew where their improvement was and what to work on, with a week to focus on that. ‘
“You never want to lose games, but you knew that they would go up another level and unfortunately we went down a couple of levels and didn’t fire our shots.
“They ended up playing the type of footy we wanted to play.”
Match: Kangaroos v Kiwis
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton