x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

No stopping the Kangaroos

Australia completed a clean sweep of Pool One with an emphatic victory over a gallant Papua New Guinea in Townsville.

TOWNSVILLE // Australia completed a clean sweep of Pool One in the Rugby League World Cup with an emphatic victory over a gallant Papua New Guinea in Townsville today. The debutant David Williams bagged a hat-trick while Joel Monaghan and Scott Prince each crossed twice in a polished display from the Kangaroos. The one-sided score line failed to reflect the wholehearted display from the Kumuls, which was highlighted by Menzie Yere's late try. Australia will now await the result of Monday's semi-final qualifier between Ireland and Fiji, with the winner to face the tournament hosts in Sydney next Sunday for a place in the final. Needing to win by more than two points to progress to the last four, Papua New Guinea began with fervour but soon found themselves on the back foot when the promising winger David Moore fumbled 10 metres out from his own line. Moore made amends from the ensuing set-of-six defusing a dangerous kick from debutant Terry Campese to prevent the hosts scoring the first points. But Ricky Stuart's men would not be denied when half-back Johnathan Thurston delivered a pinpoint kick for right-winger Williams to cross on his maiden outing in a Kangaroos jersey after nine minutes. Thurston slotted the extras from the sideline for an early 6-0 advantage. Williams appeared to claim his second try in as many minutes when Karmichael Hunt put the Sea Eagles flyer into space only to be denied by the referee Steve Ganson who ruled a forward pass. Having weathered a fearsome storm, the Kumuls finally surrendered in the 22nd minute when Monaghan outmuscled two defenders to double the lead. The onslaught continued five minutes later when Australia exploited an overlap to send Monaghan over for his second score ? Thurston's third sideline conversion made it 18-0 in favour of the hosts. A short kick-off paid dividends for the Kumuls who finally got their hands on the ball deep in Kangaroos territory, but their joy was short-lived when Williams strolled over untouched five minutes from the break to make it 22-0. The flood gates threatened to open three minutes into the second half when Scott Prince picked off an ambitious pass from Hull Kingston Rovers pivot Stanley Gene to stroll over under the posts. To their credit, PNG continued to press earning back-to-back sets, but the Australian defence was up to the task and quickly turned the tables when Williams sprinted 60 metres. Some desperate cover denied the inform flyer a hat-trick but the Kangaroos took advantage of the opportunity when Thurston found Prince for his second try and a 34-point cushion. Williams was rewarded for his brilliance on 69 minutes when he raced down the touch line to secure his third try and cap a dramatic rise since making his NRL debut this season. The Kumuls were finally rewarded for their spirited efforts seven minutes from time when local product Yere won the race to a clever grubber kick to the delight of the crowd. But Australia had the final say when Anthony Tupou scored to seal an entertaining triumph.

*PA Sport