Cowboy stars as Junior Kangaroos down New Zealand
JAKE Clifford has proven he's a star in the making by steering the Junior Kangaroos to a 40-24 win over a rocks-and-diamonds Junior Kiwis at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium.
The North Queensland playmaker had a hand in most of the Australian under-20s' best moments to earn man-of-the-match honours in the seven-tries-to-five victory on Saturday.
After six NRL appearances this year, Clifford is expected to take over the Cowboys' No.7 jumper from the retired Johnathan Thurston next season.
Fullback Corey Allan also showed why he was being touted as a potential NRL debutant for South Sydney next year and St George Illawarra winger Zac Lomax stood out with the boot by nailing five from six.
The Junior Kiwis produced a series of highlight moments, none better than when Chanel Harris-Tavita threw the ball behind himself, flicked it up with his heel and regathered for Isaiah Papali'i to give the home side a 12-6 lead.
However, the home side continually turned possession over and the Junior Kangaroos took advantage to win their fourth straight trans-Tasman encounter.
Australia led 24 -16 at half-time after Clifford and Lomax combined for Allan to score.
North Queensland winger Enari Tuala then produced an acrobatic put-down in the corner to extend Australia's advantage five minutes after the resumption, the first leg of his double.
Tino Fa'Asuamaleaui also scored twice in the final 20 minutes to inflate the winning margin.