Lachlan Jeffery reviews the final of the men’s 2021 Rugby League World Cup between Australia and Samoa.
Tries: Latrell Mitchell 2 (13, 80), James Tedesco 2 (17, 68), Liam Martin (29), Cameron Murray (52)
Goals: Nathan Cleary 3 (18, 54, 69)
Tries: Brian To’o (60), Stephen Crichton (70)
Goals: Stephen Crichton (62)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Australia has retained their Rugby League World Cup crown after holding off a spirited Samoan side 30-10 in the final at Old Trafford.
In front of a largely pro-Samoan crowd of 67,502, Australia were below their best, but a captain’s knock from James Tedesco guided them to victory.
A spine-tingling Siva Tau from Samoa showed they were fired up, and they were unlucky not to be awarded a 40/20 early after a Chanel Harris-Tavita kick was incorrectly ruled to have been kept in by Tedesco.
Samoa had the better of the early field position, however momentum turned rapidly to Australia after Jack Wighton fielded a kick in goal and sent Valentine Holmes 70 metres downfield off the 20 metre restart.
After building pressure of their own, Australia managed to open the scoring in the 14th minute as Latrell Mitchell barrelled through the defensive line to score his fourth try of the tournament. Nathan Cleary’s poor tournament off the boot continued as he shanked his conversion attempt.
The Kangaroos were in again just four minutes later when Josh Addo-Carr sliced through the defence and sent Tedesco away to score under the posts.
Samoa found themselves with a golden opportunity to attack after Addo-Carr knocked a pass down in a trysaving situation, however they were unable to capitalise when Anthony Milford knocked on early in the set.
It only took Australia one set to go back down the other end and make them pay, as Liam Martin crossed out wide to take a 14-0 lead that remained until half-time.
Tempers flared early in the second half when Harris-Tavita was knocked out when he ran into Angus Crichton’s forearm in a blow that saw the Roosters forward sin binned, and left Samoa without a dummy-half.
Being one man down didn’t hurt Australia, scoring in the 52nd minute when a beautiful ball from Cleary put Cameron Murray in for another try.
They nearly extended the margin further shortly after when Addo-Carr made another break, however his kick back inside was knocked on by Crichton.
Samoa finally got on the scoreboard on the hour mark as Jarome Luai found Brian To’o in space out wide.
The Kangaroos put the result beyond doubt with 10 minutes remaining as a slick shift put Tedesco in for his second, however it was quickly cancelled as Stephen Crichton scored another try off an intercept immediately after.
A 40/20 from Ben Hunt gave Australia one final chance and Mitchell finished the game with his second try out wide to push the margin out to 20.
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