The Australian juggernaut rolls on and shows no signs of slowing down. In the birthplace of rugby league, the Kangaroos once again underlined why they hold the international game in the palm of their hands after strolling into the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup.
Their latest rugby league clinic was a masterful display against Lebanon in Huddersfield, with Josh Addo-Carr scoring five tries and Mal Meninga’s side outclassing the Cedars in every department to set up a semi-final against either New Zealand or Fiji in Leeds next Friday. Four games into this tournament, and the Kangaroos have only conceded 18 points and it feels as though they have not yet been properly tested.
Whether that proves to be a disadvantage next week when they face, in all probability, the Kiwis remains to be seen. But here they led 30-0 after 33 minutes, with Addo-Carr crossing for a 14-minute hat-trick and ending the game as a contest long before the half-time hooter. Addo-Carr broke the deadlock before James Tedesco’s break led to his second. His third, before the game was even a quarter old, came via a fine pass from Latrell Mitchell.
Lebanon had impressed in the group stage under Michael Cheika, who will now head to London on Sunday to coach Argentina’s rugby union team against England. Here, his side were ripped apart time and time again. Mitchell scored the Kangaroos’ fourth before two tries in three minutes from the forward, Cameron Murray, made it 30-0. The only positive for Lebanon was that they didn’t concede again in the final seven minutes of a bruising first half.
But normal service resumed five minutes after the break when an error from Lebanon led to Addo-Carr scoring his fourth of the night, and tenth of the tournament. Lebanon gave their rowdy band of supporters something to cheer when Josh Mansour touched down but soon Cameron Munster kicked through for Addo-Carr’s fifth.
A crisp dummy-half pass from Harry Grant then sent Liam Martin over to round the scoring off in front of a modest crowd of 8,206 to start the knockout stages. Organisers will hope neutrals have opted to save their money to watch a potential blockbuster semi-final against New Zealand or Fiji at Elland Road next Friday.
Some had wondered if Lebanon were capable of causing one of the greatest upsets in rugby league history here. By the end, it was a familiar story. Maybe one day someone will stun the Kangaroos. Or maybe they’ll just keep on winning. At this World Cup, only two teams can stop them now.