Kangaroos hold quarter-final opponents to nil in clinical display. By James Nalton
AUSTRALIA sent a warning to the rest of the sides remaining in the Rugby League World Cup, with a clinical dismantling of Samoa in yesterday’s quarter-final in Darwin.
The Kangaroos will face the winner of this morning’s clash between New Zealand and Fiji, in what promises to be an entertaining semi-final on Friday in Brisbane.
Samoa were hard and tough in the tackle, but they lacked discipline and were weak around the edges. Australia used their superior ball control to break them down, and hard-hitting became tired tackling as the half went on in the sweltering conditions in northern Australia.
It returned at the start of the second period, but by this time Matt Parish’s side were 30-0 down.
Billy Slater impressed in the first half, epitomising his side’s ability to perform the basics at the highest level. His escape from his own in-goal area set the platform for Valentine Holmes’s second try, as the winger sprinted the length of the field shortly after. The Samoan players in pursuit appeared to have the speed to catch him, but not the will or energy to bring him down.
Slater grabbed a try of his own from Matt Gillett’s quick, basketball-style offload, before stand-off Michael Morgan got in on the act with a brace of his own before half-time.
The Australian full-back continued where he left off as the second half started and, despite a period of Samoan pressure, the Kangaroos were first on the scoreboard in this second period when Slater sent Holmes flying over along the touchline for his hat-trick.
The winger added a fourth and a record-breaking fifth, becoming the first player to cross the line five times for Australia in a World Cup match.
Once again the Kangaroos cruised to a win without having to do anything special. They conserved energy for the later rounds by sticking to the basics and this was still enough to pile points on their quarter-final opponents.
What’s more they kept them to nil and, even as Samoa attacked in the final seconds, they defended stoically to keep their opposition scoreless.
“Our main goal for this week was to complete [our sets], we knew it was going to be hot and wet and sweaty and our main goal was to complete and try to turn their big forwards around,” said Holmes, who pipped Slater to the man of the match award thanks to his record haul.
“Physically and mentally it was very hard, we’ve had to train in this weather this week and it was very tough. Obviously both teams had to play in this weather, we were feeling it and they were feeling it.
“I think we’ll all be jumping straight in the ice bath, but we fly to Brisbane tomorrow so we can get stuck into whoever we’re playing next week.”