Johnathan Thurston cast aside his personal family tragedy to lead Australia to a 30-6 victory over New Zealand in their World Cup opener at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Only a day after his uncle Richard Saunders was bashed to death in a park south of Brisbane, Thurston produced one of his most composed efforts in a Kangaroos jumper in the most difficult of circumstances.
The star halfback had a hand in three of Australia’s five tries, booted four goals and directed their attacking play in a brilliant performance worthy of man-of-the-match honours.
He was finally rested in the 72nd minute taking his record to eight wins from as many Tests for Australia.
Captain Darren Lockyer was another standout, making a seamless return to the green and gold 18 months after he last played for Australia.
Lockyer and Thurston have not played together since Origin III in 2007 but they fell immediately back into the old groove by running Australia around the paddock and controlling the tempo of the contest.
But despite being the marquee match-up of the World Cup, the game lacked the usual spark of Test match football forcing the crowd of 34,157 to start a Mexican wave with 25 minutes remaining.
Their boredom was stopped somewhat when Australian centre Brent Tate suffered concussion in the 58th minute tackling Lance Hohaia.
The loss of Tate was the only thing that went wrong for the Australians.
The same can’t be said for New Zealand.
Nothing went to script for the Kiwis as their brilliant warm up form was thrown out the window as their attack fell into disarray.
Halfback Thomas Leuluai was ineffective and at times abysmal while star Benji Marshall never looked dangerous and was well below his best.
Centre Steve Matai was also put on report for a high shot on Paul Gallen in the 13th minute that could attract a suspension.
The only shining light for New Zealand was a strong solo try by forward Sika Manu in the 27th minute as he brushed aside three defenders to score their only try of the game.
Australia led 14-6 at halftime after Greg Inglis and debutant Joel Monaghan scored from sweeping backline plays down the left flank.
The Kangaroos busted the game apart shortly after oranges with Israel Folau barging over the line and then fullback Billy Slater scoring off a Thurston break on the hour for an 18-point lead.
But Slater could find himself in hot water after diving feet first at Jerome Ropati to deny a try in the 74th minute, an act he was warned about prior to the tournament.
Folau completed the dominant win by scoring his second try after some quick hands in the final 30 seconds of the game.