- by theguardian
- 20 Mar 2023
It was a result never really in doubt in the wet West Midlands, considering the gulf between the defending World Cup holders and the minnow Bravehearts, who rely largely on lower league players of English and Antipodean heritage. The two countries have only ever played once before, back in the 2016 Four Nations in Hull, and that fixture ended in a similarly one-sided 54-12 victory.
But this time the damage was a lot more severe, with Australia piling on seven tries in the first half and eight more in the second. Nathan Cleary finished with a personal total of 28 points, with a try and 12 goals to his name, while Josh Addo-Carr claimed four tries and Campbell Graham notched a hat-trick.
It took five minutes for the Kangaroos to open the scoring, as Cleary floated a ball out wide for Addo-Carr to score in the corner. The halfback could not add the extras from the sideline, but his team had poked ahead 4-0.
It went to 8-0 six minutes later, when Jack Wighton brushed past some soft defence to touch down and the Penrith playmaker made no mistake this time, as the scoreboard started to move into overdrive.
It was 40-0 at half-time and the break came as blessed relief to Scotland. But the battering continued in the second half unabated, taking just 55 seconds for James Tedesco to cross.
With a mammoth 28 points in his first-ever Kangaroos appearance, the key question now is whether Meninga sticks with Cleary against Italy and for the rest of the tournament as his first-choice halfback, or plumps for rival Daly Cherry-Evans. That is the only potential concern for the Australian boss on a rainy night of green and gold World Cup dominance.
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