MELBOURNE // Greg Inglis and Billy Slater scored three tries each as Australia, missing playmaker Johnathan Thurston, trounced England 52-4 today to clinch a semi-final berth at the Rugby League World Cup. Slater and Inglis gave Australia a 12-0 lead after 10 minutes, but the England hooker James Roby scored from dummy half to cut the gap to 12-4 midway through the half. Anthony Laffranchi, with his first of two, and Inglis scored later tries to give the hosts a 22-4 half-time lead before Australia added five unanswered tries in the second half.
Thurston was injured in Australia's 30-6 win over New Zealand last weekend and had been confined to light training during the build-up to the match. However, the Wallabies coaching staff decided he was not worth risking a few hours before today's match and replaced him with Scott Prince, who kicked eight goals. The England captain Jamie Peacock said the lopsided scoreline indicates that his side have plenty of work to do. "We were off the pace," said Peacock. "It seemed that every time they got in our 20 they scored. If we want to progress in this tournament we have got to be better."
The Australia captain Darren Lockyer said it was premature to suggest his side had the World Cup locked up. "We have had two good wins but the World Cup is decided in the final and we have got to get there first," Lockyer said. "It was tough in the first period. England were attacking but we held our line and that was the turning point." *AP