James Tedesco inspires Australia to Rugby League World Cup glory against Samoa

 (Getty Images for RLWC)
(Getty Images for RLWC)

Captain James Tedesco scored a try in each half to help Australia maintain their global domination with a 30-10 victory over Samoa in the Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford.

Samoa had made history by becoming the first tier-two nation to reach the final, courtesy of their dramatic semi-final victory over England, and emerged with considerable credit without ever threatening to pull off another shock.

The Kangaroos had the patience and composure to deal with their opponents’ unorthodox play and showed their clinical and ruthless side in attack to boss the game and claim a 12th title out of a possible 16.

It marked a notable double following the Jillaroos’ 54-4 victory over New Zealand earlier in the afternoon.

Samoa, a country with a population of just 200,000, had the support of prime minister Afioga Fiame Naomi Mataafa, who flew in especially for the occasion, and the overwhelming majority of the 67,502 crowd.

But the ultra-professional Australians ignored the boos and gradually earned the begrudging praise of the English fans as they cruised to a ninth win in the last 10 World Cups.

Mal Meninga’s men were battle-hardened from a hard-fought semi-final victory over New Zealand and little went right for Samoa in the first half.

They were unlucky not to be given a 40-20 kick through makeshift hooker Chanel Harris-Tavita and, after a competitive opening, were hit by two tries in four minutes.

Centre Latrell Mitchell brushed off the attempted tackle of full-back Joseph Suaalii to open the scoring and a searing break from danger man Josh Addo-Carr created Tedesco’s first try, which was converted by Nathan Cleary.

Tedesco scored two of Australia’s tries as they triumphed in Manchester (PA Wire)
Tedesco scored two of Australia’s tries as they triumphed in Manchester (PA Wire)

Trailing 10-0, Samoa were still in the contest when Addo-Carr knocked down Stephen Crichton’s pass meant for winger Brian To’o and then Harris-Tavita was held up over the line.

But there was effectively no way back when second rower Liam Martin took hooker Harry Grant’s pass to force his way over for Australia’s third try after 29 minutes.

The sin-binning of second rower Angus Crichton six minutes into the second half for a swinging arm that put Harris-Tavita out of the game encouraged the crowd to ramp up their support for Samoa but, even down to 12 men, the Kangaroos were too good on the counter-attack.

A trademark ball steal by Cameron Munster got his side into prime position and Cleary got replacement back rower Cameron Murray squeezing through a gap for his side’s fourth try.

Cleary’s second goal made it 20-0 and the reigning champions had further tries from Grant and a returning Crichton ruled out by video referee Chris Kendall before the crowd finally got something tangible to cheer.

Mitchell left a big hole in the Australian defence when he went to intercept Jarome Luai’s pass and that gave To’o a straight run to the corner for Samoa’s first try, which was goaled by Stephen Crichton.

Normal service was quickly resumed with man-of-the-match Tedesco slicing through the Samoa defence from Munster’s inside ball to score his second try, to which Cleary added his third goal.

Mitchell also went over for his second try but Samoa gained more reward for their persistence when Stephen Crichton intercepted Ben Hunt’s pass and streaked 40 metres for a second try.