Australian Kangaroos v New Zealand Kiwis semi-final, result, score, Cameron Murray try, video

The Kiwis are lamenting a defensive lapse branded “not acceptable” after the Australians edged them 16-14 to clinch a place in the Rugby League World Cup final on Saturday morning (AEDT).

In a semi-final at Leeds’ Elland Road, it was an incredibly soft Cameron Murray try in the 54th minute that decided the result.

The South Sydney captain took a regulation carry from about 10 metres out and slipped through a feeble New Zealand defence, leaving Brandon Smith and Nelson Asofa-Solomona embarrassed.

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It was a bitterly disappointing moment in an otherwise tremendous semi-final between the fierce trans-Tasman rivals, with scintillating tries, crunching hits and feisty scuffles igniting the clash.

“The Kiwis are in disbelieving mode,” Andrew Voss said on the Fox League broadcast when Murray brushed through.

“Two soft tackles, straight under the sticks,” Leon Pryce added.

“At this level that’s not acceptable.”

Cooper Cronk was scathing of Smith’s effort.

“For a guy that fights over a loose bit of bone or food on the ground in his game, if you go back and watch what Brandon Smith did, or the lack of work he did for that Cameron Murray try, I think it’s going to hurt him for a long time,” Cronk said.

Tempers erupt in Roos-Kiwis cracker

The Murray try levelled the scores at 14-14 and a Nathan Cleary conversion gave the Kangaroos their 16-14 buffer.

The Kiwis went agonisingly close to atoning for the defensive blunder when Peta Hiku pursued a Jahrome Hughes kick in the 73rd minute.

Josh Addo-Carr made a mess as he tried to mop up the Hughes kick, but Hiku planted the ball on the touch in-goal line.

Kangaroos back-rower Liam Martin, who engaged in a series of tussles with Panthers teammate James Fisher-Harris, was awarded player of the match — a nod to the punch he provided as a ball-runner and in defence.

But Addo-Carr delivered the top highlight, racing at full flight to retrieve a Ben Hunt kick and score an incredible try 15 minutes into the contest.

Incredible Addo-Carr try stuns Kiwis

“What have we just witnessed?” Voss said.

“Green-and-gold magic from Australia!

“That is breathtaking.

“Addo-Carr — I don’t know what speed he was doing, but I know I’d have to be in a car to be as fast.”

After thumping Fiji 42-8, Scotland 84-0, Italy 66-6 and Lebanon 48-4, Australia faced its first genuine challenge of the tournament in the clash with New Zealand.

England and Samoa will square off in the second semi-final at The Emirates Stadium in London from 1.30am on Sunday (AEDT).

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