The TIO Stadium in Darwin was the venue as hosts Australia opened the knockout stage of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup with what looked he easiest of games against a Samoa side who have struggled in the competition and progressed to this stage with just a single draw.
While the Kangaroos have cruised through their fixtures in the group stages, Samoa have been comprehensively beaten by New Zealand and Tonga while securing their quarter final spot with an unconvincing draw against Scotland which allowed them to progress with a better points difference.
There could only be one victor, the bookies and pundits all agreed, the Green and Gold.
Samoa had given a good account of themselves early in the game but on eight minutes a high kick was knocked back by Josh Dugan and picked up low by Valentine Holmes who dove over in the corner to open the Kangaroos account. Cameron Smith added the touchline conversion for 6-0.
On fifteen Dane Gagai lost the all on the Samoa line but two minutes later Australia scored a spectacular ninety metres try, a second for Valentine Holmes who used a nice one-two passing move with Cooper Cronk on his own twenty before going almost the length of the field to score. Smith kicked a second touchline conversion to double the lead.
The game was already Australia’s when a delightful soft inside pass from Matt Gillett put Billy Slater through a gap to walk over the Samoa line and score. Smith made it three from three for 18-0.
The fourth try came on thirty-one when Michal Morgan took a Jordan McLean pass ten metres from the line and jinked his way over to score. The ever dependable Smith added the goal as the Aussies opened up a big lead.
On thirty-five Morgan got his second after chasing down Smith grubber kick to ground in goal. Smith was again accurate with the boot and the scoreline was becoming embarrassing for a tiring Samoa.
The second half was ten minutes old when Tyson Frizell was held up thanks to a great Samoan defensive effort but from the resulting play-the-ball the ball went wide to Homes to complete his hat-trick, scoring spectacularly in the corner. Smith converted from the touchline to maintain his one hundred percent record for 36-0.
The Samoan defence was absent when a fifty metre passing move including breaks from Slater, Morgan and Cronk saw Holmes take the pass and go over for his fourth of the game. Smith added the goal for 42-0.
On seventy three David Klemmer broke the Samoa line and found Holmes in support to go twenty metres, cutting inside, to go over for his fifth try, breaking the record for most tries in a single World Cup game. Smith showed he was human, missing his first of the night.
Australia showed no mercy as they dominated this game from the kick-off and easily dismissed the challenge of a Samoan side who many will believe should not have made it to this stage in the competition. Played in sweltering conditions the Aussies will now pay attention to their recovery ahead of next weekends semi-final, where their likely opponents Tonga are likely to provide a much stiffer test.
Australia: Slater (T), Gagai, Chambers, Dugan, Holmes (5T), Morgan (2T), Cronk, Woods, Smith (7G), Klemmer, Cordner, Gillett, McGuire. Subs: Frizell, McLean, Graham, Campbell-Gillard.
Samoa: Tonumaipia, Wright, Leutele, Leilua, Lafai, Luai, Roberts, Junior Paulo, Tevaga, Ese’ese, Papalii, Pritchard, Ah Mau . Subs: Brown, Afoa Matagi, Joseph Paulo.
Referee: Phil Bentham.