AUSTRALIA won their second game of the Rugby League World Cup yesterday after beating France 52-6 in Canberra.
Mal Meninga’s team didn’t quite reach top gear but still eased to victory in a performance which gives them plenty to build on for the rest of the competition.
France were able to withstand some of the early pressure, but a number of turnovers and penalties conceded didn’t help their cause. They had an early reprieve when Tom Trbojevic was denied a debut try due to an obstruction in the build-up, but in the blink of an eye they were 10-0 down as Wade Graham crossed twice.
A length of the field try from Mark Kheirallah was a highlight of the first period and had France back in it briefly, but Graham completed his hat-trick before Josh Dugan beat several defenders to fly over in the corner giving his team a 20-6 half-time lead.
Aurelien Cologni’s troops may have been expected to be out of the game by the break, but they kept themselves in it thanks to Kheirallah’s try. They had, however, been helped by a few errors from the Australians, but the hosts managed to cut some of these out of their game and take full control in the second half.
Regardless of who they’re up against, the Kangaroos approach games in the most clinical of fashions, safe in the knowledge that they have some of the best players in the world and merely doing the basics right is enough to defeat most opposition.
This was the case in the second period. Cameron Munster scored two on his debut, Dugan touched down for his fourth, while Tyson Frizell, Billy Slater and Valentine Holmes also got themselves on the scoresheet. It wasn’t the most outstanding performance from the Aussies, but it was unerringly clinical at times despite the occasional error.
“It’s something I’ve never even dreamed of,” said a beaming Graham after the game, having been named man of the match.
“Playing for Australia in the first place, but four tries — I’m blown away. I’m stoked we’ve had a team win and getting across the try line is just a bonus.
“We’re a work in progress still, we’re trying to improve in each game. We certainly took some steps today but there are a few more errors we can fix up. No doubt in the week we’ll look at those.”
Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith also believes the side can improve as they reach the latter stages of the tournament, which is ominous for the teams they’ll meet further down the line.
“The first half was a little bit patchy from us, we had some soft errors but I thought we finished the game nicely. Our kick chase game was strong and we need to build on that for the rest of the tournament. I’m looking forward to next week now.”
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