Australia crush Samoa in Rugby World Cup quarter-final

Rugby League World Cup 2017: Five tries for Valentine Holmes as Australia crush Samoa in quarter-final


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Photos of Australia defeating Samoa 46-0 in the Rugby Leage World Cup quarter-final.

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He became the first Australian player to score five tries in a Test match and it was on the wing - but Valentine Holmes immediately re-stated his determination to hold onto the Cronulla fullback spot.

In a one-sided World Cup quarter-final at TIO Stadium, Holmes topped John Ribot, Dale Shearer, Michael O'Connor, Gorden Tallis, Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor, Brett Morris, Jarryd Hayne, Wade Graham and Ryan Girdler who all crossed four times for the green and golds.

He said he was unaware of the record when he came off the field. Australia will now play New Zealand or Fiji in the semi-final at Suncorp Stadium next Friday.

But with Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan joining Cronulla next year, 22-year-old Holmes doesn't want his Darwin picnic to encourage club coach Shane Flanagan to switch him there.

Unstoppable: Valentine Holmes races away for one of his record five tries against Samoa. Photo: AAP

Unstoppable: Valentine Holmes races away for one of his record five tries against Samoa. Photo: AAP

"I think in rep footy I'm a good winger but I'd like to play fullback," Holmes said. 

"I enjoy more playing fullback. It's not always about scoring tries. I'd like to to set up tries. I get a bit excited about scoring tries but obviously in a team like this you've got to wait your turn.

"We've got a great fullback in this team and he'll be playing for another few years."

That fullback, Billy Slater, drew level with Hayne as the leading all-time World Cup try-scorer with his own touchdown in steamy, sapping conditions as the Australians grabbed a 30-0 halftime lead.

Evergreen: Billy Slater once again defied the years in an exemplary showing from fullback. Photo: AAP

Evergreen: Billy Slater once again defied the years in an exemplary showing from fullback. Photo: AAP

Holmes' first try came after  future club-mate Josh Dugan tapped a Cooper Cronk kick down to him in the seventh minute. The second was 10 minutes later when he exchanged passes with halfback Cronk spectacularly over 99 metres.

In the 51st minute, fullback Billy Slater lobbed a heady pass to him a minute after Tyson Frizell was denied and in the 57th minute Melbourne's Cronk was the provider again after a long-range break.

The 74th minute piece de resistance, from David Klemmer's pass, was the scorer's favourite.

"He teed it up before hand because he knew Matt Wright was drop-kicking (from the restart); obviously he was the opposite winger and we thought they would have been down a man," Holmes said.

"I didn't think he was going to pass it but he did."

Asked where he thought Holmes belonged, coach Mal Meninga said: "He belongs in the Australian team. We played him there last week at fullback and he excelled but as far as the team going forward now, he's our best option on the left wing."

While Australia centre Will Chambers had a specially made jersey to mark his return to his home state, the evening really belonged to Holmes and Slater.

Slater, who will play on for one more season but has left the door ajar for at least another, didn't look like a man 12 months from retirement as he glided around the oval.

Samoa struggled to hold onto the ball and really didn't improve on the performances from their winless round-robin period. The attack looked flat and predictable and - despite the score - defence was probably the best part of their game.

In the 2013 quarter-finals, Australia beat the United States 64-0 in the quarter-finals. Perhaps in another couple of decades, a quarter involving the green and golds will be competitive.

The Australians thought a couple of players had been taken out late - but captain Cameron Smith wasn't complaining.

Australia coach Mal Meninga said: "We want to improve every week. Hopefully next week we come up with another, more improved performance."

Rival Matt Parish commented: "We had lots of effort but it wasn't one of our better performance - probably the story of our World Cup. Just too many mistakes."

AUSTRALIA 46 (Valentine Holmes 5, Michael Morgan 2, Billy Slater tries; Cameron Smith 7 goals) defeated SAMOA 0 at TIO Stadium, Darwin. Referee: Phil Bentham (England). Crowd: 13,473.

The story Rugby League World Cup 2017: Five tries for Valentine Holmes as Australia crush Samoa in quarter-final was originally published on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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