Rookie Kangaroos better for a real test

Australia coach Mal Meninga says his players now know why they call it a Test match.

Australia had yet to be tested at this tournament but the 16-14 win over the Kiwis would have given them a reminder of the level they need to be at if they are to win a third-straight World Cup.

Seven of Meninga's 17-man squad in their narrow victory hadn't played for Australia prior to this tour, but against the Kiwis they found out what it was like to be put under pressure at international level.

They had to come from behind to get the win to progress to the semi-final where they will meet England or Samoa.

"We know where we stand in the pecking order and we understand the way we need to play," Meninga said.

"I'm really happy for the boys, it was a real Test match.

"Sometimes you don't get what you want and the way you play is a bit clunky, the ball goes to ground, penalties against you and all that sort of stuff.

"You have to keep on hanging in there.

"Games like that where you've got to find that little extra in the way you play or the effort levels, (that is what) gets you a victory."

It was the first time the halves combination of Nathan Cleary and Cameron Munster had felt any heat after Meninga opted for Cleary ahead of Daly Cherry-Evans.

The Penrith halfback was under immense pressure from the Kiwis' defence but Meninga was satisfied with how he was able to persevere.

"I thought they (Cleary and Munster) were very good tonight and our kicking game was the best it has been at the tournament," he said.

"I was happy with the way we performed. We made a few errors, penalties and six-agains but you expect that to happen. I thought they handled it very well."