World Cup third quarter-final: ENGLAND 34 FRANCE 6 at DW Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

ENGLAND showed more willingness to admit problems on the field than they previousy had off it after a deeply unconvincing quarter-final win over France.
While New Zealand and Australia crushed their first opponents in the knockout stages of the World Cup, the English were fortunate not to have conceded more than one try in their 34-6 win over a plucky France at DW Stadium.
England coach Steve McNamara has refused to discuss the banishment of Gareth Hock and Zak Hardaker and suspension of James Graham for disciplinary reasons earier in the tournament but was far more forthcoming in discussing his disappointment at the showing.
“Scratchy, very scratching – probably our worse performance out of all the games,” McNamara said, who said his men would have to improve “a lot” before Saturday’s semi-final against New Zealand.
“Australia, Ireland and Fiji – I think there’s been some really positive things from that. Tonight, we didn’t go out with any fear of the opposition in us and that didn’t help us
“We put in a very substandard performance. We’ve shown how good we can be. If we needed a wake-up call, that was it tonight.
“(But) there’s no major drama, there’s no major concern from me.”
France scored first through centre Vincent Duport – who hurt his shoulder in the process, meaning he joined on the sidelines hooker Kane Bentley who had been injured in the opening seconds.
The French nonetheless managed to prize open the English defence on a number of occasions but lacked the finesse to finish.
England led 22-6 at halftime and managed only two second-session tries, although the performances of wingers Josh Charnley and Ryan Hall was a positive. They each scored try braces, with Hall at the top of the tournament list with eight.
Among other selection posers, Gareth Widdop has again hardly been sighted in red and white for England and McNamara insists each team he picks is his best.
But he added: “The best 17 can fluctuate and change according to the opposition … regardless of the performance tonight, that 17 may not have been the best 17 to play New Zealand the week after.”
France’s Engish coach Richard Agar, tried to be diplomatic when asked if he still believed England could beat New Zealand in Saturday’s semi-final.
“They’ll need to improve,” he said. “They’ll have that little bit of fear in their bellies too, which they probably didn’t have at stages tonight
“The other two teams, from what I’ve seen and what we’ve all seen, deserve to be down as favourites.”
One England player with a lot on his mind going into the clash with the Kiwis is young forward Liam Farrell, the cousin of former Golden Boot winner Andy Farrel who idolises Sonny Bill Williams.
“I don’t think you can look at the scorelines too much … if we contend with New Zealand’s forward pack and control them, we stand a good chance of winning,” Farrell told Fairfax Media.
“Everyone’s talking about (Williams). To me, he is the superstar of the game. I’ve watched him since being a kid. I’ve loved watching him play. It’s going to be a massive task for us.
“As a second rower myself, I like to assess myself against people like that.”
This England side’s unusual relationship with the media was still evident: captain Kevin Sinfield said: “This press room’s the busiest I’ve seen after any of our internationals this year.
“You’re all looking for a line but we just need to be better – and we will be.”
ENGLAND 34 (Ryan Hall 2, Josh Charnley 2, Sean O’Loughlin, Brett Ferres tries; Kevin Sinfield 5 goals) beat FRANCE 6 (Vincent Duport try; Thomas Bosc goal) at DW Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein (Australia). Crowd: 22,276


Filed for SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

World Cup second quarter-final: AUSTRALIA 62 UNITED STATES 0 at Racecourse Ground, Wrexham

By STEVE MASCORD
IF injury realistically presented a bigger hurdle at this World Cup than many of Australia’s opponents, then it is becoming an increasingly vengeful foe.
Two weeks after back rower Luke Lewis’ tournament ended in a collision with an advertising hoarding, fullback Billy Slater’s recent off-field misfortune following him onto the Racecourse Ground for the 62-0 quarter-final whipping of the United States.
Slater, who was detained without charge by Manchester Police after a dispute outside a nightclub last week, finds himself in the hands of another branch of the emergency services after suffering an injury relating to the absence of posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee a minute into the second half.
“It’s an old injury – he’s got no PCL so he can’t hurt it,” said the Australia coach, Tim Sheens.
“But damage may have been done to the cartilage and other things. He’s gone for scans.
“We haven’t given up hope that he may be possibly available – if not this week after that sort of knock, then the next week if we get get that far.”
It’s a measure of Australia’s depth, however, that the man who replaced Slater in the custodian role yesterday – Greg Inglis – was considered by opposition coach Terry Matterson a more dangerous prospect there than in the centres.
Slater may have been the offical player of the 2008 World Cup but the prospect of facing Inglis wearing the number one will not exacly fill Australia’s opponents with glee.
By almost any measure, Sheens’ side was ruthless in Wrexham. It ran in 12 tries, with centre Jarryd Hayne and winger Brett Morris each equalling the Australian record for a full international with four.
Hayne’s selection in the centres is something of a leap of faith for Sheens, and it paid off spectacularly. One of the three men he kept out – Michael Jennings, Josh Morris and Brent Tate – will now be called up as a replacement for Slater in a reshuffled backline.
If ever there was a team in less need of luck, it was Australia playing the United States in rugby league.
Nonetheless, the green and golds’ kick-off to start the mismatch rebounded off the wordwork and into the arms of loose forward Paul Gallen.
The Tomahawks initially held them out, but it was only two minutes before Hayne scored his side’s opening try.
There were positive moments for the American initially. By the time 19 minutes had elapsed, the score was only 10-0 and stand-off Joseph Paulo has been unfortunate not to have scored after charging down a clearing kick.
But Morris equalled his country’s try-scoring record in a full international by halftime. His hat-trick was registered in just 14 minutes.
The World Cup favourites showed no favouritism when it came to their route to the tryline. There were sweeping backline movements, pin-point kicks and soft walk-ins.
They didn’t try to find the easy way to points but nor did they display the previous week’s stubborn insistance on talking the hard road.
Parramatta’s Hayne could scarcely have done more to justify Sheens’ vote of confidence, with the extra work required of a centre preventing him from zoning out of a contest, as he can sometimes do.
Hayne started and ended the scoring spree; the score could have been uglier had Johnathan Thurston kicked more than seven from 12.
Sheens took particular pride in his men having kept their tryline intact.
“I think we’ve the best defensive record in the competitiom at the moment,” he said.
“We had our pants pulled down early by England and we were determined that won’t happen again so we’ve worked hard on that aspect.”
Matterson said he was relieved the game was over and proud of his previously unheralded charges despite the margin.
“We won’t dwell too much on what happened today,” he said. “It’s an experience. What we’ve done over the past four weeks has been special.
“It’s a group of people I wil always remember and we’ll always have a very strong bond.”
Tomahawks captain Joseph Paulo said the tournament had given him the confidence to speak more on the field and become a more dominant player with his club, Parramatta.

AUSTRALIA 62 (Jarryd Hayne 4, Brett Morris 4, Greg Inglis 2, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk tries; Johnathan Thurston 7 goals) beat UNITED STATES 0 at Racecourse Ground, Wrexham. Referee: Henry Perenara (New Zealand). Crowd: 9762

Filed for THE OBSERVER

World Cup first quarter-final: NEW ZEALAND 40 SCOTLAND 4 at Headingley


By STEVE MASCORD
SCOTLAND deliberately maximised the embarassment of rugby league officials by announcing as the most important game in their history kicked off that their funding had been completely withdrawn.
New Zealand cruised through the World Cup quarter-final at Headingley as expected, winning 40-4 to set up a semi-final appearance with England with centre Bryson Goodwin and winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck each posting try braces.
Their only real complication was an ugly, if accidental, incident which left superstar Sonny Bill Williams with a jarred neck.
But officials of the Rugby Football League, who until now had been basking in the glory of successful and profitably tournament, copped a PR barrage as the teams ran out when Scotland Rugby League posted on Facebook: “The RFL have withdrawn their funding from across the Celtic nations …
“There are no staff working on or on behalf of Scotland Rugby League until the Rugby League International Federation make a decision on any future funding for Scotland.”
Bravehearts coach Steve McCormack refused to be drawn on the issue after the quarter-final and SRL chairman Keith Hogg did not immediately return Fairfax Media‘s phone calls.
But it is understood the SRL had received inquiries about the issue throughout the week leading up to the match and had decided to maximise the impact of the news by announcing it when the eyes of the rugby league world were on its team.
The Rugby Football League, which overseas the game in Britain, is funded by Sport England – an anomaly when it comes to passing on that funding to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RFL’s funding has been cut by Stg10 million over the next four years.
“I know they haven’t got a lot of money – I didn’t know they’ve now got none,” said former NSW five-eighth Peter Wallace, who has represented Scotland for the first time in this tournament.
“Hopefully how we’ve gone in this tournament … maybe the Scotland government can get behind rugby league in Scotland.”
For New Zealand, who led 26-0 at halftime, minor injuries and some lack of concentration were the only negatives coach Stephen Kearney could point to.
Williams packed into the next scrum following his mishap at prop before getting a very early shower, while winger Manu Vatuvei came off with a groin injury and captain Simon Mannering was also given a long rest.
Tuivasa-Sheck was a popular man of the match after tries in the 19th and 29th minutes. “He’s a young man of 20 years old yet some of the stuff he does makes it look like he’s been around for 10 years,” said Kearney.
“Yet it’s instinctive.”
The return of Kevin Locke as first-choice fullback was deemed a success and Kearney said the decision between the Warriors custodian and Josh Hoffman for the Wembley semi-final would be difficult.
“After halftime, we could have been a bit more ruthless,” said Kearney, who added “eighty per cent of the side is pretty much fixed or set”.
NEW ZEALAND 40 (Bryson Goodwin 2, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2, Jesse Bromwich, Frank Pritchard, Shaun Johnson, Manu Vatuvei tries; Johnson 4 goals) beat SCOTLAND 4 (Alex Hirst try) at Headingley. Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia). Crowd: 16,207.

Filed for: SUN-HERALD

World Cup: SAMOA 22 FRANCE 6 at Stade Gilbert Brutus

By STEVE MASCORD
FRANCE coach Richard Agar accused NRL referee Henry Perenara of being “weak” and jokingly questioned whether he was a New Zealander or a Samoan following a rugged end to the group stages of the World Cup.
The Samoans had three players reported a total of four times and one of them – Mose Masoe – also sent to the sin bin during an 22-6 win in Perpignan which allowed them to avoid England in the quarter-finals.
Instead, the Samoans -they dedicated the win to squad member Penani Manumalealii whose mother May died in a car crash during the week – will play Fiji on Sunday. The remaining quarters pit New Zealand against Scotland, the United States against Australia and France against England.
“I thought it was weak at times,” said Englisman Agar. “How many guys did they have on report? I lost count at times.
“Is Henry a Kiwi or Samoan? I’m just trying to work that one out.
“There were penalties for absolutely nothng in the ruck and our halfbacks were just open targets for some very, very late challenges. One sin binning, I think they’d be happy with the result, it was probably worth their while.
“We had one halfback leave the field twice on the back of those challenges.”
France’s Roosters-bound prop Remi Casty added: “We’ve had red cards for lesser infractions. I don’t know if the rules are different in this tournament,.”
But Samoa coach Matt Parish reckoned “some of the Frenchmen could be in line for Academy Awards” for their reactions to the incidents.
“Their ball players went to the line; all our blokes made contact with their shoulder, their were no high shots. It was debatable whether they were late.”
|In front of the angriest crowd of the tournamernt so far, Leeson Ah Mau took out William Bathau late and high after 12 minutes and 60 seconds later Sauaso Sue claimed the halfback from behind.
An off-the-ball shoulder charge went unpunished before Sydney Rooster Masoe was give a spell for another, on Thomas Bosc.
Then centre Tim Lafai got a mention in referee Henry Perenara’s report for a speak tackle, and Wests Tigers’ Sue another one, for a possible trip. “There’s no way he stuck his foot out to tray and trip someone,” said Parish
On each occasion, the 11,576 crowd made it very clear it expected sterner action from the match officials.
But amid such uncouthness, it was pure rugby league poetry that assured the Samoans of victory.
Taking the ball 15 metres out with a standing start, fullback Anthony Milford dazzled the French defence with probably the individual try of the tournament five minutes after halftime.
He beat five defenders to dot down between the posts and converted himself to break a 6-6 deadlock; from there the Samoans weren’t headed.
France went close a number of times, however, with a two man overlap completely slaughtered on one occasion by Sebastian Raguin to the audible frustration of the fans, who follow Catalan in Super League.
Cronulla’s Manumalealii decided to stay in camp despite the loss of his mother in Christchurch. His father, who was also reportedly hurt in the accident, encouraged him to stay on.
France go into the quarters with the worst record of any surviving team
SAMOA 22 (Daniel Vidot, Anthony Milford, Antonio Winterstein, Pita Godinet tries; Milford 3 goals) bt FRANCE 6 (Morgan Escare try; Thomas Bosc goal) at Stade Gilbert Brutus. Crowd: 11,576. Referee: Henry Perenara (New Zealand).

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

World Cup: ITALY 16 TONGA 0 at The New Shay

By STEVE MASCORD
IT’s likely the first time in any World Cup, in any sport, that players from one nation’s team donned the uniform of another, presented jerseys before kick-off and cheered a “rival” country from the dugout.
Fresh off the plane from Ireland after their final pool match, Australia’s Michael Jennings and Andrew Fifita were photographed at The New Shay before Tonga’s stirring 16-0 win over Italy wearing the Mate Ma’a striking red training gear.
While the gesture may appear bizarre to outsiders, Tonga coach Charles Tonga and captain Brent Kite described it as a symbol of a new era in which NRL players will each pledge allegiance to two countries: Australia, New Zealand or England and someone else.
The changes was reported by Fairfax Media a fortnight ago and Tonga said he had been advised by his national federation that they would be in force. Kite, who has also played for Australia, acknowledged the loosened qualification laws would be mocked – and not just by those outside the game.
“Even people in the game … in rugby league it’s a cultural thing,” he told Fairfax Media. “You pick sides and you stick with your side. You don’t go from NSW to Queensland.
“I would just say as someone who is half Tongan and half Australian: it’s as hard as picking between your mum and your dad. My dad’s Aussie, my mum’s Tongan.
donate2“Australia and New Zealand are spoiled for talent. You have a look over there and Michael Jenningsa isn’t realy getting a run for Australia. He would have been a massive asset to an emerging nation like Tonga.
“If we are serious about getting international fixtures that people want to watch and can raise revenue for the game, instead of just being a basket case as they have been….
“For those guys to take time out of their campaign to come and support us when we had been knocked out of the comp was a really touching gesture and Charlie rewarded them by (them) being able to hand out the jerseys.
“Playing for Aussies and Kiwis and even NSW – it’s very lucrative for a young giuy We don’t ask them to come and play and pass up that cash. We want everyone to do well.”
The brutal contest allowed Scotland to qualify for a quarter-final against New Zealand. Tonga went into the Halifax game with their World Cup already over; Italy needed to win and threw everything at their opponents.
Given that it was a match which the Tongans led just 2-0 at halftime, and which they iced by scoring with two minutes remaining, their coach reckoned it should have forever buried a prejudice they have faced repeatedly.
“People say we are only good for 20 minutes, that we’re big but we run out of steam,” Tonga said.
“We were just known as big and physical. Today we showed we can go for the 80 minutes. People shouldn’t say that anymore..”
The first try of the contest did not come until the 46th minute, when Willie Manu beat three defenders and carried three across the line with him in an Herculean effort.
Italy followed with their best period of the match; a crunching Konrad Hurrell tackle which jolted the ball loose was probably the turning point of the whole contest as the Azzurri dominated posession.
Halfback Daniel Foster’s 63rd minute try was also a testiment to raw determination; he was stopped well short but carried two men as he drove the final metre to the line, flinging an arm out to plant the Steeden on the chalk.
Peni Terepo’s late score was rare beast; given after an illegal strip in the Italian in-goal. When Italy coach Carlo Napolitano was going through, post-match, the factors that conspired against them, captain Anthoy Minichiello added: “refereeing”.
In particular, the Italians believed video referee Phil Bentham had wrongly denied centre James Tedesco a fair try. He was ruled to have been held up – and was later taken out chasing a kick. “It was maybe thew Scottish Gods looking down on the referee,” said coach Carlo Napolitano
To top of a dramatic evening, man of the match FuiFui MoiMoi answered an English television interviewer at fulltime entirely in Tongan.
Minichiello, meanwhile, hinted he would re-sign with Sydney Roosters in roughly a fortnight.
“It’s been a success for Italy,” said Minichiello. “First World Cup and we’ve only lost one game. We beat England (in a warm-up) too.”
Napolitano said he was unsure if he would continue in the head coach’s roleech role.
TONGA 16 (Willie Manu, Daniel Foster, Peni Terepo tries; Samsoni Langi 2 goals) beat ITALY 0 at New Shay, Halifax. Referee: Ben Thaler (England). Crowd: 10,266.

Filed for SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

World Cup: AUSTRALIA 50 IRELAND 0 at Thomond Park, Limerick

By STEVE MASCORD
WITH the talismanic Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston rested, Australia deliberately ignored some attacking opportunites to practice their structures ahead of the World Cup knock-out stages.
The 5212 crowd – poor by World Cup standards but a record high for an international in Ireland – probably didn’t hold out much hope for expansive play given the wet, cold conditions at the home Munster rugby union.
But when Australia winger Jarryd Hayne scored after a minute after some clever right-edge attack, the tournament favourites had every right to continue going there.
Instead, they rigidly stuck to a pragmatic attacking template they hope will carry them successfully through the quarters, semis and the World Cup final.
“It’s about playing well. Respect the opposition and play the game-plan you would if you were playing one of the so-called Big Three,” said coach Tim Sheens
“It’s a matter of playing the way you want and not necessarily the opportunities that are in front of you and that we were shown tonight at times.
“We were determined to keep it nice and tight and we designed a gameplan around our kick-and-chase and our defence.”
amazonIreland had a positive period, during which they attacked and defended with greater purpose and confidence, just after halftime. The couldn’t cross the stripe themselves but kept the Aussies out for 18 minutes.
For Australia, Daly Cherry-Evans second start in the halves was an unqualified success. He scored a well-taken kick-and-chase try, was handed man-of-the-match and must now be pushing for a utility bench spot in Sheens’ top side.
Winger Hayne’s early score from a Brent Tate break gave the impression of an avalanche of points but it never really got to that stage.
It was another 10 minutes befoe scrum-half Cooper Cronk snuck over from close range and a further 19 before Greg Bird, running a nice angle after a penalty – ticked the scoreboard over again.
Referee Phil Bentham’s insistence on fast rucks consistenty frustrated and upset the Wolfhounds and Australian tries often followed the shrill of his whistle/
Winger Brett Morris took advantage of a bouncing ball than landed in his arms and fullback Billy Slater found himself over the tryline – almost as an afterthough – after chiming into a well-executed backline movement.
The Irish were a different side after the break but when their defensive line did open, it was a gaping hole in centrefield for Melbourne’s Cronk to dash through.
The came Cherry-Evans’ score – he slid along the lush turf to reclaim his kick and dot down – interchange Andrew Fifita’s thundering run from 15 out, and Hayne’s second which closed the scoring.
Ireland coach Mark Aston and captain Liam Finn were almost ebulient despite the heavy defeat and a campaign which did not feature a victory.
“We got together three Saturdays ago and you could see that in our first couple of performances,” said Aston.
“I think we’ve got something like 20 teams domestically, as amateurs. The big challenge for them is rugby union in Ireland is massive, as we know, and this facility is jammed every week
“There;s 4* (rugby union) development officers in this area alone so how do you get them to play league?
“We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to set academies up. We’ve got to hit those who don’t quite hit it for rugby union.”
donateSheens did not think England and New Zealand likely playing each other in a semi-final would be an advantage in terms of intensity going into the November 30 final.
“In ’09 when we were over here for the Four Nations, we played New Zealand first, then England, then France,” he said.
“So far as the seedings were concerned, we went backwards but we still came out to win the competition.”
Sheens says he is likely to field his best 17 against the United States at Wrexham on Saturday and that one centre position, loose forward and prop are the positions causing him most angst.
GAMESTAR
DALY CHERRY EVANS: He’s not going to get a starting spot when the whips are cracking by DCE has done everything right against Fiji and Ireland. He executed Sheens’ conservative gameplan to perfections and scored a well-taken try.
GAMEBREAKER: When Jarryd Hayne scored after only one minute, the result was only going to go one way. Surprisingly, it came against the left side defence of Australians Josh Toole and Pat Richards.
TOP TACKLE: James Hasson pulled off a hit on Billy Slater that kept the local fans happy despite a big score in the second half. The Wolfhounds muscled up for long periods.

STORY OF THE GAME
1 Jarryd Hayne try………………………..4-0
Cameron Smith missed goal (0/1)…4-0
11 Cooper Cronk try…………………….8-0
Cameron Smith goal (1/2)………….10-0
30 Greg Bird try……………………………14-0
Cameron Smith goal (2/3)…………..16-0
31 Brett Morris try………………………..20-0
Cameron Smith goal (3/4)…………..22-0
39 Billy Slater try…………………………..26-0
Cameron Smith missed goal (3/5)…26-0
55 Cooper Cronk try……………………..30-0
Corey Parker goal (1/1)……………..32-0
59 Daly Cherry-Evans try………………. 36-0
Corey Parker goal (2/2)……………..38-0
64 Andrew Fifita try……………………….44-0
Corey Parker goal (3/3)……………..46-0
72 Jarryd Hayne try……………………….50-0
Corey Parker missed goal (2 from 3) 50-0

MATCH FACTS
AUSTRALIA
1. Billy Slater (Melbourne)
2. Brett Morris (St George Illawarra)
3. Josh Morris (Canterbury)
4. Brent Tate (North Queensland)
5. Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta)
6. Daly Cherry Evans (Manly)\
7. Cooper Cronk (Melbourne)
8. Paul Gallen (Cronulla)\
9. Cameron Smith (capt, Melbourne)
10. James Tamou (North Queensland)
11. Greg Bird (Gold Coast)
12. Sam Thaiday (Brisbane)
13. Nate Myles (Gold Coast)
INTERCHANGE:
14. Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters)
15. Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers)\
16. Andrew Fifita (Cronulla)
17. Corey Parker (Brisbane)

IRELAND
1. Scott Grix (Huddersfield)
2. Damien Blanch (Catalan)
3. Stuart Littler (Leigh)
4. Joshua Toole (Illawarra Cutters)
5. Pat Richards (Wigan)
6. James Mendeika (Warrington)
7. Liam Finn (capt, Featherstone)
8. Brett White (Canberra)
9. Rory Kostjsyn (North Queensland)
10. Anthony Mullaly (Huddersfield|)
11. Tyrone McCarthy (Warrington)
12. David Allen (Widnes)
13. Simon Finnigan (Leigh)
INTERCHANGE (all used):
14. Bob Beswick (Leigh)
15. James Hasson (Manly)
16. Ben Currie (Warrington)
17. Luke Ambler (Halifax)
Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the Match: Australia: Daly Cherry-Evans. Ireland: Brett White. Penalty count: 5-10. GLDO Forced: 2-0. 40/20s: 0-0.


Filed for: LEAGUE EXPRESS

World Cup: SCOTLAND 22 UNITED STATES 8 at Salford City Stadium


By STEVE MASCORD
CAPTAIN Joseph Paulo says the United States just scoring against Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals next Saturday might be as good as victory in another game.
The Tomahawks completed the pool stage of the tournament with their first defeat, 22-8 to a Scotland side inspired by a man injured in the warm-up and aided by a 12-0 second half penalty count in their favour.
That led Paulo to say French referee Theirry Alibert – controlling his final match in the UK after several years in Super League – may have been trying to “get back” at the Americans for beating France.
But it is the November 16 quarter-final against Tim Sheens’ Australians that is now the focus of the plucky Tomahawks, who were no expected to win a game here.
“We’re going in there expecting to win,” said Parramatta’s Paulo of Saturday’s appointment with the green and golds.
“If that means scoring a try or getting points on the board, then that feels like we’ve won against them.”
Coach Terry Matterson added: “I don’t think we’re going to sit down and go through their (Australia’s) last three games. I don’t think we’re going to bother with that.
“I’ve got a fair idea of what Cameron Smith can do. Greg Inglis? I think I’d rather him play centre than fullback.
“But our guys, they’re not going to be star struck. They’re going to go out there and give a good account of themselves.”
Thursday’s result ended Tonga’s tournament and left Scotland needing Tonga to beat Italy at the New Shay in Halifax on Sunday to stay alive.
The 15-5 penalty count, including 12-0 after halftime, infuriated the Americans with Paulo saying: “The ref was going to get his way. I don’t know if it’s because he reffed us in France, he tried to get back at us.
“When I approached the ref, we couldn’t take to him and we tried to take it out on Scotland and that just made it worse for us.”
Scotland had to overcome setbacks of there own. There were serious doubts over the first American try but more significantly hooker Ben Fisher suffered a torn calf in the warm-up for what was shaping as the last game of his career.
He was carried from the field and the team reshuffled to replace him. Australian Fisher, 32, told BBC: “It’s absolutely devastating to finish on that note.
“Words can’t describe how hard it is. It’s a pretty tough realisation. That’s life.”
Prop Luke Douglas, a tryscorer on Thursday, said: “Ben was standing opposite us during the anthem and he was sheding a tear. It was pretty emotional.”
Fisher raised both crutches in the air on the sideline when man of the match Matty Russell scored in the 52nd minute to put the Bravehearts ahead for the first time.
The US defence on the way to an 8-0 halftime lead was nothing short of heroic as Scotland got over the line five times without scoring.
But the penalty count – and having played three games in nine days – took its toll on Terry Matterson’s side in the second half. Former Gold Coast import Russell, current Titan Douglas and winger Alex Hurst and second rower Brett Phillips were the tryscorers
It wasn’t a good night for hookers; America’s Joel Luani was booked for a spear tackle late in the contest.
SCOTLAND 22 (Brett Phillips, Matthew Russell, Luke Douglas, Alex Hurst tries; Danny Brough 3 goals) beat UNITED STATES 8 ( Kristian Freed, Taylor Welch tries) at Salford City Stadium. Referee: Thierry Alibert (France). Crowd: 6041.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

World Cup: TONGA 22 COOK ISLANDS 16 at Leigh Sports Village

By STEVE MASCORD
COOK Islands winger Jordan Rapana wrote himself into international rugby league folklore with a spectacular bombed try – and then told his coach he would have converted it to tie an epic World Cup battle with Tonga.
It took 23 years for Great Britain winger Martin Offiah’s in-goal fumble in Christchurch to be challenged – by Sonny Bill Williams in Warrington – and only nine more days for a gaffe that arguably eclipsed them both.
Searching for the first ever win in a World Cup match, David Fairleigh’s side roared back against the more favoured world game t-shirtTongans at Leigh Sports Village and by the 68th minute trailed by just six points.
After play broke down briefly, causing the Tonga defence to hesitate, five-eighth Johnathan Ford put Canberra’s Rapana over in the right corner without a hand laid on him.
But as the former Gold Coast prodigy tried to ground the ball, he dropped it. There was no further scoring and the Cooks’ campaign is over.
“He reckons he would have kicked the goal, too – fair enough,” said coach David Fairleigh.
“(The error) is not why we got beat. The game writes its own story. There was a collection of things throughout the game. To pin it on one thing … it’s not Jordan’s fault, that’s for sure.”
Interestingly, Rapana hadn’t even done the goal-kicking up until then in a game which kept alive Tonga’s and guaranteed the United States their quarter-final against Australia.
The duties had instead been performed by Newtown winger Chris Taripo, who with a hat-trick, provided all his team’s points and was man of the match.
Crossing in the 18th, 42nd and 61st minutes, he beat the flanker who has been ahead of him at Sydney Roosters all season, grand final star Daniel Tupou.
“Tupou, he was in my position at my club, and I was up against him. It was good,” said Taripo, who is without a club next season.
“I was stoked just to be in the team because I wasn’t named last week.”
The towering Tupou acknowleged he had been bested. “I know him as a bloke, a good friend of mine,” the 23-year-old said.
“I talked to him after the game, said congrats and thanks for showing me up.”
After losing their opening match to Scotland, Brent Kite’s Tongans were expected to roast the Cooks.
But after Glen Fisiiahi’s early scored for Tonga, the underdogs hit the front with Taripo’s first two touchdowns. The second, from Drury Low’s kick, took advantage Tupou’s height by keeping the ball on the ground.
On the half hour, Tonga regained the lead when second rower Jason Taumalolo bullocked over from close range – and then centre Konrad “Hurricane” Hurrell posted the individual try of the tournament.
donateFirst he beat Cook Islands captain Zeb Taia and he added five more victims on a bumping, steam-rolling 35-metre run to the tryline two minutes short of the break.
Taripo completed his hat-trick two minutes after halftime and converted for 18-16 and there it stayed until Tonga winger Jorg Taufua managed a benefit-of-the-doubt try in the 61st minute, with video ref Richard Silverwood unable to see the ball on the ground.
Tonga needs the United States to beat Scotland on Thursday to keep alive their campaign. “We definitely need a favour,” said Kite. “They’ve played well to get into the position they’re in.
“I’m just hoping they’re not going to take this one too easy and rest too many.
“I’m not too proud to beg: get out there USA and get us a win. We’ll owe you one.”
Cook Islands have a dead rubber against Wales at Neath on Sunday. “We want to try to create history by getting our first win at the World Cup,” said their captain, Zeb Taia.
TONGA 22 (Glen Fisiiahi, Jason Taumalolo, Konrad Hurrell, Jorg Taufua tries; Samsoni Langi 3 goals) beat COOK ISLANDS 16 (Chris Taripo 3 tries; 2 goals) at Leigh Sports Village. Referee: Ashley Klein (Australia). Crowd: 10,544.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

World Cup: SAMOA 38 PAPUA NEW GUINEA 4 at Craven Park

By STEVE MASCORD
ANTHONY Milford is playing fullback – a position likely closed off to him if he succeeds in joining Brisbane next year – at the World Cup simply because he wants to, coach Matt Parish has revealed.
The 19-year-old, centre of a tug-o-war between Canberra and Brisbane for his services in 2014, was named man of the match as Samoa claimed their first win of the tournament, 38-4 over a disappointing Papua New Guinea at Hull’s Craven Park.
While Milford insists his bid for a compassionate release from the Raiders is wholly in the hands of his managers, Parish gave a surprising answer when asked if he considered switching the rookie into the halves following a first-up loss to New Zealand.
amazon“He can play where-ever he wants, that kid,” Parish said. “He’s certainly a great talent. I personally think he’s suited to fullback. If he wants to play fullback, I’m happy to play him there.
“But again, he could play halfback really well.”
The signing of Ben Barba means Milford would probably not be able to play the custodian role at Suncorp Stadium – particularly since the club also boasts the current New Zealand no.1, Josh Hoffman.
Asked if he was suggesting Milford was allowed to play where-ever he wanted for Samoa, Parish responded: “Why not?”
Beng given the run of an international side while still a teenager works well, according to Milford. “If it’s too far for me to come across, I just play that first receiver role,” he told Fairfax Media.
“They boys don’t mind playing at the back as well, which is good. I can pick and choose.”
Milford is saying little about his 2014 plans. “I’m not too sure. I’ve got a four week break when I go back. Everything’s up to my management team. Hopefully when I go back, I’ll have something sorted out,” he said.
Samoa led 22-0 after 24 minutes, effectively anaesthetising the hardy 6782 fans who braved the cold at East Hull. The Kumuls remained he local favourites, however, and responded with a more spirited display after trailing 28-0 at the break.
The Samoans were deadly at times on the edges, with Pita Godinet’s 14th-minute try the result of a mesmerising interchange of passes on the right side.
But Samoa are running low on troops, with Reni Maitua (groin), Harrison Hansen (leg) and Frank Winterstein (pectoral muscle) to miss the rest of the tournament.
A call to bring in re-inforcements, which would have incuded St Helens’ Tony Puletua, has fallen in deaf ears.
PNG coach Adrian Lam, meanwhile, was battening down the hatches for a wave of criticism. Coaching director Mal Meninga has moved to write a lettet to the country’s public after the one-point loss to France which opened the campaign.
“Although we wanted to do well here, the priority is that next (World Cup),” Lam said.
“At the last World Cup, we had 15 international players and eight locals. At this World Cup, it’s swapped around, it’s the opposite.”
donate2Lam said his message to league-mad Papuans was “just to be patient with the process”.
“We’ve got seven million people who were probably up watching this morning.They judge the boys pretty harsh on performance. I know everyone at home will be pretty disappointed. Probably, we’ll see our critics over the next couple of days and the next week or two. That’s cool. Off the back of that performancetonight, it wasn’t too cool.
“We’ve still got New Zealand to go. All is not lost. We might win that to go through to the quarter-finals.”
Lam offered a wry smile as he uttered that last sentence.
SAMOA 38 (Antonio Winterstein 3, Suaia Matagi, Pita Godinet, Ben Roberts Suasu Sue tries; Anthony Milford 5 goals) beat PAPUA NEW GUINEA 4 (Jesse Joe Nandye try) at Craven Park. Referee: Shayne Hayne (Australia). Crowd: 6,782.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALDĀ