Australia have defended their World Cup title in style with a 30-10 win over Samoa at Old Trafford on Sunday.
With skipper James Tedesco and centre Latrel Mitchell claiming doubles and halves Nathan Cleary and Cameron Munster all class, the Kangaroos scored six tries to two in front of 67,502 fans at the Theatre of Dreams.
The Kangaroos were first to strike after a clever grubber by Ben Hunt forced a line dropout and on the ensuing set Mitchell powered through Brian To’o and Joseph Suaali’i to make it 4-0 after 14 minutes.
Just four minutes later the Kangaroos were in again when Josh Addo-Carr exploded into space and found Tedesco in support for a 10-0 lead.
Mitchell went within inches of adding a second try in the 25th minute but some desperate Samoa defence denied the Rabbitohs star.
With Harry Grant scheming out of dummy half the Kangaroos extended their lead on the half hour mark when the Storm rake put Liam Martin in for his fourth try of the tournament.
Down 14-0 Samoa continued to chance their arm and created space on the left for Jarome Luai but he was shut down by Tedesco in cover defence.
Samoa dug deep on their own line late in the half to hold the Kangaroos at bay in a defensive stance that ensured they were still in the hunt at the break.
A big moment arrived in the 47th minute when Angus Crichton was sin binned for 10 minutes after raising his elbow and making contact with the head of Chanel Harris-Tavita, who was forced off for a HIA.
Samoa immediately mounted pressure and Suaali’i found space on the left but the final pass went astray.
Mistakes by Pat Carrigan and Mitchell heaped more pressure on the undermanned Kangaroos but Cameron Munster came up with a trademark strip on Spencer Leniu to ease the pressure.
That play by Munster gave Australia the field position to cross for a fourth try when Nathan Cleary went to the line and delivered a sweet ball for Cameron Murray to surge into a hole and the defending champions led 20-0.
Some brilliant footwork and a great cut-out pass by Luai opened the door for To’o on the right wing and Samoa had their first of the night in the 61st minute. Crichton converted from wide out to make it 20-6.
With 12 minutes remaining the Kangaroos put the result out of reach when Munster delivered an inside pass to a flying Tedesco for the skipper to make it a double. Cleary’s conversion made it 26-6.
An intercept by Stephen Crichton in the 71st minute gave Samoan fans another chance to celebrate as the Panthers star continued his stellar tournament.
From there the Kangaroos were able to close the game down and they put the finishing touches on their third consecutive World Cup title when Mitchell slid in for his second try in the final minute.
A crowd of 67,502 packed into the Theatre of Dreams for the World Cup Final.
“The first half for us was exceptional, I thought we did everything we needed to do and second half we scrambled well defensively, one man down and we scored some points while that happened. Just the mark of a great footy team, committed to each other, and really happy for the boys. James Tedesco was our everywhere man, he led the side really well through the week, his talk and the way he trained was exceptional. He was on tonight and we needed him,” said Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.
“From the start, we’ve been aiming to build to where we wanted to get to and we’re reaping the rewards for the sacrifices players have made. We spoke about it during the week, giving ourselves every chance at the end of this game. We knew that whatever happened, we were all going to be able to lift our heads up and be proud.That’s all I wanted for these men. It’s a special bunch and unfortunately the journey comes to an end and we all go our separate ways. But in history, those names will always be alongside each other and we can look back and be proud of what we’ve been able to do,.” said Samoa skipper Junior Paulo.