Australia has survived a late charge from New Zealand to win the Anzac Test 12-8 at a wet AAMI Park on Friday night.
Meeting for the first time since the teams drew 20-20 in last year's Four Nations, the Kangaroos overcame the loss nearing the half-hour mark of hooker Cam Smith to an elbow injury to lead 6-0 at half-time and then withstood some huge late pressure to hang on.
Playing in just his fifth Test for his country ahead of what's expected to be a State of Origin debut later this month for New South Wales, winger Brett Morris took his personal haul to eight tries in front of 29,442 fans.
And while the Kiwis dominated possession and field position in the final 10 minutes there simply wasn't enough cohesion in attack, particularly in the first hour, for them to overhaul the Kangaroos.
The first opportunity of the game fell to Greg Inglis in the third minute but he was unable to cling on to Cooper Cronk's chip a metre out while moments later Jarryd Hayne batted a kick back but Benji Marshall swooped and with acres of space ahead it was only a desperate Slater that stopped him.
The Kiwis' first good chance came to nought with a forward pass close to the Kangaroos' line and in the 12th minute Marshall knocked on when the advantage was paid after Hayne had spilled a bomb but then Lance Hohaia did likewise from the scrum.
Inglis got involved in the 15th minute with a step and a couple of fends but was stopped in his tracks by Hohaia who then cleaned up a grubber that followed and after Slater was pinned in-goal Jamie Lyon eventually picked up Marshall's grubber at the second attempt.
Nearing the half-hour mark and Cam Smith's night came to an end courtesy of Storm team-mate Adam Blair in a tackle with what appeared to be a serious elbow injury before the hosts finally opened the scoring on 32 minutes through Lyon from 25m almost directly in front.
Back-to-back sets for the Kiwis close to the Kangaroos' line were undone when Frank-Paul Nuuasaula was pushed into touch in a four-man tackle and two minutes later a penalty against Steve Matai for a late hit on Slater led to the opening try.
Early in the resulting possession Lockyer spotted that Sam Perrett had come off his wing and he grubbered ahead with the ball sitting up perfectly for a flying Morris down the left to score but Lyon pushed his kick to the right.
A penalty against Ben Matulino after he'd smashed Thaiday in a tackle several minutes after the resumption saw Thaiday charge for the corner and then throw a basketball pass backwards where Morris was waiting to dive on the ball and Lyon converted from the sideline for 12-0.
The Kiwis had a couple of chances in the 10 minutes leading up to the hour-mark but failed to capitalise before Sam Rapira, Marshall and Hohaia all handled, the last two throwing cut-out balls, to put Jason Nightingale over in the corner but Issac Luke missed the conversion.
New Zealand threw everything into the final 10 minutes and Marshall's long cut-out ball found Sika Manu whose inside ball allowed Junior Sa'u to spin and crash over but Luke again missed as Australia tackled grimly in the final minute to hold on.
Tries: Morris 2
Try: Nightingale, Sa'u