Australia booked a semi final in Brisbane next Friday night, thrashing Samoa in the Darwin quarter final; Valentine Holmes scored five tries, the first player in RLWC history to do so. They will likely play New Zealand in the semi.
AUSTRALIA SECURES GAME EARLY
Any worries that Australia’s relatively easy group stage would hurt them were blown away in the first half. Doubles to Holmes, Cooper Cronk and one to Billy Slater gave Australia a 30-0 lead at halftime. It looks like Australia are building towards the December 2nd final.
SLATER’S EVERGREEN TERRACE
There were fears we’d seen the end of Billy Slater, playing just one NRL game in 2016 and enduring a long recovery. Slater came back in 2017, played Origin again and won the Clive Churchill Medal. While Holmes got the bag of tries, Slater continued to amaze in Darwin. A desperate effort to get out of his in-goal led to Holmes’ length-of-the-field try in the 17th minute; Slater was rewarded with his own try seven minutes later, followed by a beautiful cut out pass for Holmes’ third try. He was so good, even New South Wales fans would’ve enjoyed it.
DID SAMOA DESERVE TO BE THERE?
Samoa’s finals qualification was heavily criticised, with Ireland (two wins and a close loss) far superior in pool C. Samoa (one draw and two losses) only qualified because they were in the stronger pool B. Surely Ireland wouldn’t have played worse than Samoa in Darwin? Australia’s first try came from a BJ Leilua knock-on after earning an attacking scrum and Samoa never recovered, with only 43 per cent possession, 18 missed tackles and 12 errors.
DARWIN EMBRACES THE WORLD CUP
There’s been criticism of the at-times apathetic Australian crowds in the RLWC, blamed on ticket prices and predictable results. Darwin fans turned out for their only match, with a vocal sell out crowd watching Australia win easily. While Darwin will never get more than token NRL games (a second Brisbane team and Perth are higher priorities), it’s great to see local fans will embrace rugby league when given the chance. It was a big night for Will Chambers; born in Brisbane, Chambers spent his childhood in the NT and had the NT flag on his jersey. A proud night for Chambers and his family.
Tries: Valentine Holmes (5), Michael Morgan (2), Billy Slater
Goals: Cameron Smith 7/8