Australia and Papua New Guinea have recorded their third straight wins at the World Cup, dominating Lebanon and the United States.
The Kangaroos will now face Samoa in the quarter-finals in Sydney after battering the Cedars 34-0 in Sydney to top Group A. The Kumuls will meet England in Melbourne in the knockout stage after annihilating the Hawks 64-0 to finish first in Group C. Lebanon are through and will play Tonga in the Christchurch quarter-final, while the US have been eliminated with their third defeat in a row.
Australia went up 10-0 at half-time after tries to Cameron Munster and James Maloney. The green and gold blew a gutsy Lebanon away in the second half, with four-pointers to Munster, Boyd Cordner, Dane Gagai and Tom Trbojevic. Despite the scoreline and not conceding a try, it was a far from faultless performance. But the biggest concern for Mal Meninga is that his two front-rowers, New South Welshmen Aaron Woods and David Klemmer, were put on report.
Australia made 22 errors and referee James Child blew 21 penalties in a stop-star game. Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga was not happy.
"It was a frustrating game…it was very slow," he said.
"It was probably one of the slowest games that I've seen for a while. There were 21 penalties and there were a lot of stoppages. We want to see a good game of rugby league, don't we, so we want to be allowed to play a bit more. We had three penalties in the first game against England and not many penalties against France last week, and all of a sudden both teams were penalised for a lot of things that other teams have been getting away with.
"It's our showpiece so we should be allowed to play footy. It was just a bit frustrating tonight because there were a lot of things in the play the ball area and a lot of stoppages around injuries that normally you wouldn't see in our game so I'm a bit disappointed in that. We're trying to play attractive footy and showcase the skills of the players, and I thought that wasn't allowed tonight."In Port Moresby PNG raced out to a 34-0 lead at half-time against the Americans. They added 30 more points in a huge second half spell laden with tries. It was the Kumuls biggest-ever World Cup win and a record Test victory. The result came at a cost though with blockbusting winger Garry Lo picking up a calf injury.
Captain David Mead record his fourth try of third World Cup, to become PNG’s greatest World Cup try-scorer, and Rhyse Martin nailed 10 goal from 11 points to finish with an 18-point haul. Young Lachlan Lam, the son of ex-Kumuls skipper Adrian Lam, grabbed a brace in a memorable debut.
Former Australian international Laurie Daley believes Papua New Guinea can beat England in the quarter-finals.
“They're a fighter's chance," Daley said in commentary for Channel Seven.
"They can score points and from what we've seen so far England don't score a lot of points."