On-song Kangaroos give Samoa a beating
AUSTRALIA has fired a warning shot at New Zealand ahead of next weekend's Four Nations final, beating Samoa 44-18 in Wollongong.
After lacklustre performances in their first two games, the Kangaroos were on song from the kick-off, halfback Cooper Cronk taking advantage of some brilliant lead-up work by teenage winger Sione Mata'utai and Greg Inglis to cross in the left corner in just the third minute.
The decision to play Sam Thaiday in the back row paid dividends, the Broncos veteran creating havoc out wide, putting Inglis over in the 11th minute after some good work involving Broncos teammate Corey Parker.
The lack of prop forward options proved costly for Australia in the first two games, but the decision by coach Tim Sheens to start Raiders forward Josh Papalii in the front row alongside Aaron Woods paid dividends, both players getting their team on the front foot and giving Cronk plenty of space to create havoc.
Samoa's ill discipline proved costly in the first half, Joseph Leilua giving away four penalties alone which helped Australia enjoy great field position.
Coach Matt Parish would have been unhappy with that, but a try to Tim Simona after a great individual effort in the 20th minute would have brought a smile to his face. Parish would have been disappointed when hooker Pita Godinet was held up over the line by Inglis just minutes later, and the brilliant fullback rubbed salt into the wound by scoring his second try in the 26th minute.
Samoa needed to be the next team to score, but a superb individual effort by five-eighth Daly Cherry-Evans from well inside Australia's half, followed by another four-pointer to big Bulldog David Klemmer, saw Australia take an unbeatable 28-6 lead into half-time.
Samoa tried hard in the second half, Ben Roberts and David Fa'alogo scoring excellent tries and prop Josh McGuire turning in a powerhouse effort.
But a second try to Cronk and further touch downs from Papalii and Josh Mansour were enough to get the Kangaroos home.
SCORE: Australia 44 (C Cronk 2, G Inglis 2, D Cherry-Evans, D Klemmer, J Papalii, J Mansour tries; C Smith 4 goals, Cherry-Evans 2 goals) Samoa 18 (T Simona, B Roberts, D Fa-alogo tries; T Lafai 3 goals)
Crowd: 18,456 at WIN Jubilee Stadium yesterday afternoon.