Rugby League World Cup: Australia put minnows USA to the sword
Last Updated: 16/11/13 4:08pm
Australia coasted into the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals with a resounding 62-0 success over international minnows USA at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground.
Kangaroos duo Brett Morris and Jarryd Hayne helped themselves to four tries apiece on Saturday while centre Greg Inglis bagged a brace.
Cooper Cronk and captain Cameron Smith also touched down for Australia in the first half and the scoreline would have been larger had Johnathan Thurston not missed five conversions.
Australia, who lost full-back Billy Slater in the second half to a knee injury, will now play the winners of Sunday's clash between Fiji and Samoa in next week's semi.
With a clear gulf in quality between the two sides, the last thing the USA needed was for luck to go against them straight from the kick-off.
But that is exactly what happened as Australia hooker Smith's kick on the whistle came off the upright and was seized upon by Sam Thaiday deep in the opposition's half.
Although the USA survived the first set of six, they would not be so lucky from a goal-line drop out immediately afterwards, with a fluent passing move along the right ending with Inglis passing to Hayne, who raced to touch down in the right corner.
The minnows conceded a second try soon after when Inglis opted to bulldoze his way over the line, in spite of team-mate Darius Boyd free in space on the left wing.
Thurston booted the conversion to put Australia 10-0 ahead and it appeared the game was already over as a contest.
But errors started creeping into Australia's game and they were given a let-off when Slater appeared to knock-on on his own try line. Referee Henry Perenara and his touch judges failed to act, however, with Australia wing Morris taking full advantage.
The New South Wales representative pierced through a gap in the Tomahawks' defence to sprint 50 metres clear and touch down on the right.
Morris' superb score seemed to sap the spirit out of the USA and started a run of four tries in seven minutes to silence a largely pro-USA crowd.
First, Hayne found another gap in the USA's defence before passing inside for Smith to cross the whitewash, while Morris got his second after good work from Hayne and Slater on the right.
Cronk then got on the scoresheet by strolling over the line after the Australians had been gifted possession following USA centre Taylor Welch's knock-on deep inside his own half.
It was becoming clear why the USA had been given a 50-point head-start on most handicap coupons as Morris completed his hat-trick following a simple move along the right.
He then scored his fourth of the afternoon after leaping above Matthew Petersen to touch down from Cronk's crossfield kick.
At 38-0 ahead, the one saving grace for Australia was the kicking form of Thurston, who missed five of his eight conversion attempts.
The minnows came out refreshed after the break and Roman Hifo's rough challenge on Slater ended the Australian full-back's game.
But Inglis somehow found his way over the line despite the presence of five Tomahawks defenders surrounding him, while Hayne also added his second try following more excellent work from Morris.
Thurston's brace of conversions took Australia to the 50-point mark for the second game in a row.
Sheen's men were not finished, however, and Hayne scored his hat-trick with an unstoppable burst to the line before adding a fourth score on the hooter after brushing off the challenge of USA full-back Kristian Freed.