x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Aussies and French open with wins

Australia, inspired by Johnathan Thurston, open their World Cup account with an easy win over New Zealand.

New Zealand's Steve Matai, right, defends against Australia's Joel Monaghan
New Zealand's Steve Matai, right, defends against Australia's Joel Monaghan

SYDNEY // Israel Folau crossed twice and Johnathan Thurston had a hand in three tries as Australia opened their 2008 Rugby League World Cup campaign with a 30-6 win over New Zealand earlier today. Thurston, a doubtful starter for the match after his uncle died in an alleged attack in Brisbane earlier this weekend, contributed to three of Australia's five tries and landed four goals. New Zealand's only highlight was a strong try by Sika Manu in the 27th minute which kept the score to 14-6 at half-time.

Inglis and Joel Monaghan scored from sweeping backline moves in the first half and Australia increased their lead to 18 points on the hour with tries after the break by Folau and Billy Slater. Folau scored in the last minute to round off the scoring. The former Canberra Raiders player Jerome Guisset returned to Canberra and scored two tries to lead France to a 36-18 win over Scotland today. The French, featuring 12 players from Super League club Catalans Dragons, were never behind after the fullback Jared Taylor finished off an attacking raid in the 16th minute.

But Scotland played above pre-match expectations. The Scots equalised in the 19th minute when Jon Steel went over in the corner and halfback Danny Brough converted from the left touch line. France then scored twice again before the break when Guisset burrowed over amid four tacklers in the 28th minute - soon after Scotland had a try disallowed - and John Wilson leapt above the defence to regather a Thomas Bosc cross field bomb in the seven minutes before the break.

The Scots reduced the margin to 18-12 six minutes after the break when Oliver Wilkes ran onto a flat ball from Brough and crossed the try line. After exchanging tries to make it 24-18, the second-rower Guisset stripped the ball from the Scotland fullback Michael Robertson under the posts for the clincher. Christophe Moly finished off an 80-metre counterattack in the last minute and Bosc converted - his sixth goal from as many attempts - to extend the margin to 18 points.

Guisset said the win put France on track for a semi-final berth from Group 2. "It's good mate, I haven't scored for about two years," Guisset said after the match. "The guys stuck to the plans. We got a bit down early in the second half, but we came back strongly. "If we complete our sets and roll up our sleeves, we can be a good team." Scorers: Australia 30 (Israel Folau 2, Greg Inglis, Joel Monaghan, Billy Slater tries; Johnathan Thurston 4 C Smith goals), New Zealand 6 (Sika Manu try; Steve Matai goal). Halftime: 14-6. France 36 (Jerome Guisset 2, Jared Taylor, John Wilson, Sebastien Raguin, Christophe Moly; Thomas Bosc 6 goals), Scotland 18 (Dean Colton, Jon Steel, Oliver Wilkes tries; Danny Brough 3 goals). Halftime: 18-6.