Australia booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals with an ominously comfortable victory over Lebanon.
Josh Addo-Carr took his tally for the tournament up to 11 with five tries, including a hat-trick inside the first 19 minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield.
Mal Meninga’s side looked like they had plenty more levels to go up to as they booked a meeting with New Zealand or Fiji in Leeds next Friday.
Coached by former Australia rugby union coach Michael Cheika, Lebanon had impressed in their group stage wins over Jamaica and Ireland, as well as a battling defeat against the Kiwis.
A good start was vital for them and when Nathan Cleary uncharacteristically kicked out on the full in the opening minute, they were presented with a chance to look at the Kangaroos line.
Unfortunately, the set ended with Adam Doueihi’s heavy low kick going dead in-goal, and that would be the closest they would get in the first half.
Addo-Carr squeezed in at the left corner from Latrett Mitchell’s pass to open the scoring on five minutes, and he stretched the lead to 10-0 when he backed up James Tedesco’s break up the middle from dummy half.
His hat-trick came up in different circumstances, Lebanon victim of the curious ball steal rule, with Cameron Munster robbing Cedars full-back Jacob Kiraz on the floor and laying off for Addo-Carr to go in unopposed from 10 metres out.
A charging break up the middle by Isaah Yeo laid the platform for the fourth try. After he was pulled down, Australia went left and Mitchell ran over two players to touch down for 18-0.
Cameron Murray added two tries before the half time, either side of a Doueihi kick-off that went out on the full. He backed up an offload from Angus Crichton for his first and then crashed over by the side of the posts from Harry Grant’s inside ball to make it 30-0 at half time.
Addo-Carr didn’t need to be at his brilliant best for his fourth try, as he was handed it on a plate by Mitchell after a Lebanon error. In possession deep in their own half, a pass hit the ground and as two Lebanon players scrambled to collect, it bounced up to the Kangaroos and Addo-Carr was in.
But the Cedars did at least give their vocal travelling support something to cheer about on 51 minutes. Captain Mitchell Moses’ kick wasn’t dealt with by Cameron Munster, shifted to full-back at half time when Tedesco went off, and the ball was touched down by Josh Mansour, who played for the Kangaroos at the last World Cup.
That proved a mere blip for the heavy favourites and Addo-Carr added his fifth try before the hour mark, though he couldn’t find a sixth to level team-mate Valentine Holmes’ record for tries in a single World Cup match.
Forward Liam Martin added his name to the scoresheet with their ninth and final try, crashing over from a short pass from Grant in front of a crowd of 8,206.
New Zealand take on Fiji at Hull’s MKM Stadium on Saturday night to decide who will take on the Kangaroos at Elland Road.
Full time: Australia 48-4 Lebanon
Australia: James Tedesco, Valentine Holmes, Jack Wighton, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster, Nathan Cleary, Jake Trbjevic, Harry Grant, Tini Fa’asuamaleaui, Angus Crichton, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo. Subs: Daly Cherry-Evans, Patrick Carrigan, Cameron Murray, Lindsay Collins.
Tries: Addo-Carr 5, Mitchell, Murray 2, Martin. Goals: Cleary 6
Lebanon: Jacob Kiraz, Josh Mansour, Brandon Morkos, Reece Robinson, Abbas Miski, Adam Doueihi, Mitchell Moses, James Roumanos, Anthony Layoun, Khalil Rahme, Elie El-Zakhem, Charbel Tasipale, Andrew Kazzi. Subs: Mikey Tannous, Khaled Rajeb, Jalal Bazzaz, Jaxsen Rahme.