Five tries from Valentine Holmes helped Australia progress to the semi-finals of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup following a resounding 46-0 win over Samoa.
The Kangaroos were 30-0 ahead at the break thanks to five unanswered tries from Valentine Holmes (2), Billy Slater and Michael Morgan (2).
Three further tries from Holmes in the second half saw Australia comfortable 46-0 winners.
Mal Meninga made six changes to his side that beat Lebanon last week. Tom Trbojevic, Cameron Munster, Josh Mansour, James Maloney, Felise Kaufusi and Ben Hunt were replaced by Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Josh Dugan, Michael Morgan, Josh McGuire and Tyson Frizell.
Matt Parish made three changes to his Samoa outfit that drew with Scotland last time out. Frank Pritchard, Ben Roberts and Suaia Matagi came in for Frank Winterstein, Pita Godinet and Sam Tagataese.
Samoa started well and forced some errors from Australia but Samoa also came up with them. It was the Kangaroos who scored first as Josh Dugan patted a kick to Valentine Holmes who finished in the corner. Cameron Smith converted to put his side 6-0 up.
Dane Gagai thought he went over for the Kangaroos in the 15th minute but the video referee deemed a knock-on from the winger as he crossed the line.
It wasn’t long until Holmes scored his second and the hosts’ second though. The winger picked the ball up on his own line and made a sublime break to go the length of the field to dive over. Smith added the conversion to put Australia in a 12-0 lead.
Samoa were really struggling to deal with the fast-paced Rugby League that Australia were playing in the first half. Matt Gillett popped the ball back inside to Billy Slater who darted over. The conversion was good and Australia were 18-0 ahead.
The spine of the Kangaroos was really clicking and Samoa simply couldn’t deal with it. Michael Morgan took on the Samoa defence as he threw two dummies to score from close range on the half hour mark. Smith’s conversion was successful, Australia 24-0 Samoa.
Morgan grabbed his second just five minutes later as he latched onto a well-timed Smith grubber. The conversion was on point from captain Smith and the Kangaroos went into the interval with a comfortable 30-0 advantage.
HALF TIME: Australia 30–0 Samoa.
Australia started the second half just as strong as they ended the first half. Tyson Frizell thought he had scored in the 48th minute but the video referee chalked it off due to Frizell being held up.
Holmes completed his hat-trick after receiving a bullet pass from Slater to finish impressively in the corner. Smith added the extras to put his side 36-0 to the good.
The Kangaroos were almost untouchable in the game and looked like scoring in near enough every single set they had. Holmes got his fourth when he showed great support play following a superb line break from Cooper Cronk. Smith’s boot made the score 42-0 to the Green and Gold.
Holmes etched his name into the Rugby League history books as he became the first ever player to score five tries in a World Cup match. Smith failed to convert but Australia were 46-0 to the good after 73 minutes.
Samoa had a couple of chances to score a consolation try late on but the Kangaroos hung on to nil their opponents.
FULL TIME: Australia 46–0 Samoa.
Australia – 46
Tries: Holmes 5, Slater, Morgan 2
Goals: Smith 7/8
Samoa – 0
Loverugbyleague.com MOM: Valentine Holmes (Australia)
Australia: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Josh Dugan, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Cameron Smith (C), 10. David Klemmer, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire.
Interchange: 14. Wade Graham, 15. Jordan McLean, 16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 17. Tyson Frizell.
Samoa: 1. Young Tonumaipea, 2. Matthew Wright, 3. Ricky Leutele, 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. Tim Lafai, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Ben Roberts, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Jazz Tevaga, 15. Bunty Afoa, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Frank Pritchard (C), 13. Leeson Ah Mau.
Interchange: 14. Fa’amanu Brown, 10. Herman Ese’ese, 16. Suaia Matagi, 17. Joseph Paulo.
Referee – Phil Bentham