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Australia and England Post Big Wins Ahead of Quarterfinals (Photos)

October 30, 2022

ST HELENS, England — Australia gave coach Mal Meninga plenty to consider after wrapping up its group phase of the Rugby League World Cup by thrashing Italy 66-6 on Saturday.

Meninga rested first-choice standoff Cameron Munster for the third and final Group B game, meaning either halfback Nathan Cleary or Daly Cherry-Evans was likely to be axed for next Friday’s quarterfinal in Huddersfield.

Cleary and Cherry-Evans auditioned together for the first time after each paired with Munster, and both stars set up multiple tries in a ruthless 12-try performance in St. Helens.

“If everything works out with no injuries or illnesses, my plan is from the quarterfinals onwards we will have our best team available for as long as we remain in the tournament,” Meninga said.

England’s Mike Cooper, center, is tackled by Greece’s Theodoros Nianiakas, left, and Greece’s Mitchell Zampetides during the Rugby League World Cup group A match between England and Greece, at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, Saturday Oct. 29, 2022. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)

“It’s a tough decision, we all know that. But that’s the Kangaroos — we’ve got great depth and all 24 players are worthy of playing in their positions going forward. The difficult thing is we are playing really well. What excuse can I utilize for why you aren’t playing? That’s the tough conversation.”

Meninga made eight changes from the 84-0 win over Scotland last week, and gave wing Josh Addo-Carr a rest against the Italians after his six-try showing over the two previous group games.

Meanwhile, England lashed Greece 94-4 in Sheffield and Fiji beat Scotland 30-14 in Newcastle.

Cherry-Evans launched the Kangaroos with a chip caught by Valentine Holmes for a corner try. Center Murray Taulagi scored five minutes later, followed by captain James Tedesco against the Italian side he played for at the previous two World Cups.

Fiji’s Vuate Karawalevu is tackled, during the Rugby League World Cup group B match between Fiji and Scotland, at Kingston Park, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Will Matthews/PA via AP)

Winger Campbell Graham was gifted a try by Italy, then Latrell Mitchell scored one and produced an audacious backhand offload for Taulagi’s second. They led 30-0 at halftime.

Tedesco was spelled after their seventh try, and the biggest cheer came about an hour in for Italy when forward Ronny Palumbo pounced on a grubber kick to score their only try.

The Australians replied with four more tries.

Winger Dom Young scored a record-tying four tries for England, all in the first half. He leads the tournament list with eight in three matches.

England notched 17 tries against Greece by 11 different players. Marc Sneyd kicked 13 goals and contributed 30 points.

Australia’s Latrell Mitchell, middle, scores a try as Italy’s Radean Robinson tries to defend during the Rugby League World Cup match between Australia and Italy at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Sneyd also had a hand in several tries, and scored one of his own after halftime, when England led 44-4.

England swept Group A and faces a quarterfinal next weekend against the runner-up in Group D, probably Papua New Guinea.

By fulltime at Bramall Lane, England posted the second highest score in World Cup history, second only to Australia beating Russia 110-4 in 2000.

“It was an awkward one to deal with,” England coach Shaun Wane said. “The record doesn’t interest me, I was looking for habits and certain things that will help us beat Papua New Guinea if we get them.”

Australia’s Murray Taulagi sores a try during the Rugby League World Cup match between Australia and Italy at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Greece was eliminated without a win at its first World Cup but was heartily cheered while it lapped the field after the match.

Fiji was grateful for being tested by Scotland, ahead of a quarterfinal matchup with New Zealand.

“We needed it,” interim coach Wise Kativerata said. “We needed to work on our attack because we’ve been working hard on our defense.”

Fiji scored five tries to Scotland’s three. All five were converted by Brandon Wakeham.

Australia’s Campbell Graham scores a try during the Rugby League World Cup match between Australia and Italy at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

The Fijians led 18-8 at the break and 24-14 with 30 minutes to go, and finally made the result certain when sustained pressure led to a Korbin Sims converted try while the teams were playing 12 on 12. Fiji second row Viliame Kikau and Scotland winger Lachlan Walmsley were occupying the sin-bin.

Scotland bowed out after three group losses, while Fiji will take consecutive wins into the showdown with the Kiwis next weekend.

“We’ve got the team to play New Zealand,” Kativerata said. “We’ve got the younger squad, so when we play our style of football our energy goes up, everything goes up.”

 

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