Australia 62 United States 0 match report: Americans' dream ends with sharp dose of reality
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Sunday 17 November 2013
The United States' astonishing World Cup adventure came to a shuddering halt at the hands of the best side in rugby league.
A team of strangers cobbled together from America's modest domestic competitions and from Australasia had already exceeded all expectations by reaching the quarter-finals of the tournament. At Wrexham yesterday, they paid for their impudence.
Just like Scotland against New Zealand the previous evening, they found themselves simply out of gas when they were confronted by opponents who were just too strong, too fast and too skilful.
Of nobody was that more true than the right-winger in green and gold, Brett Morris, who scored a first-half quartet of tries. He is one of a pair of identical twins in the Australian squad and there must have been times when the Americans would have sworn that both of them were on the field.
He came frustratingly close to becoming the first man to score five tries in a World Cup match, having one disallowed for a forward pass and selflessly passing to Jarryd Hayne, who himself finished with four, when he could have scored another.
None of this should detract from the achievements of the now exhausted Americans over the last month. Their performances, like those of the Scots, have had much to do with the success of this World Cup.
Another remarkable aspect of the extraordinary story of the Tomahawks was the return of their second-rower, Mark Cantoni, just four weeks after breaking his arm in France. It shouldn't be possible, but you can say that about their whole experience.
They were in trouble in this game from the moment Cameron Smith's kick-off came back to the Aussies off the goal-posts. There were less than three minutes on the clock when the early pressure produced a try from Hayne, selected in the centres in place of the dropped Brent Tate.
Greg Inglis then added a second try on the back of Sam Thaiday's rumbling charge.
Midway through the first half, Morris scored one of the highest quality, taking the ball deep in his own half and exploding down the right-hand touchline.
The captain, Smith, was next, capitalising on good footwork and a perfect pass from Hayne. It was three in four minutes – just about as quick as it can be – when Hayne and Billy Slater combined to send Morris away for his second. A dropped ball near his own line by Taylor Welch then provided Cooper Cronk with an invitation, before Morris completed his hat-trick from a move straight from a scrum and claimed his fourth from a Cronk kick to the corner.
If Johnathan Thurston had been more accurate with his goal-kicking it would have looked even worse, but he managed only three from eight attempts. The other worry for the Aussie coach, Tim Sheens, was the loss of Slater in the second half with a recurrence of a knee injury. That was more of a concern than the scoring rate slowing, although both Inglis and Hayne got their second tries in the third quarter. The outstanding Hayne finalised his hat-trick ten minutes from time, before Corey Parker's flick-pass gave him his fourth.
The Kangaroos will now play the winners of today's game between Fiji and Samoa as part of a double-bill of semi-finals at Wembley next Saturday.
Australia Slater; B Morris, Hayne, Inglis, Boyd; Thurston, Cronk; Scott, Smith, Tamou, Thaiday, Bird, Gallen. Substitutes used Cherry-Evans, Papali, Fifita, Parker.
USA Freed; Faraimo, Welch, Garvey, Petersen; Paulo, Priestly; Offerdahl, Luani, Pettybourne, Newton, Shipway. Howard. Substitutes used Cantoni, Soloai, Hifo, Samoa.
Referee H Perenara (New Zealand).
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