Mal Meninga hails Kangaroos as a ‘great footy team’ after they clinch Rugby League World Cup glory… but Samoa boss Matt Parish SLAMS referee Ashley Klein as ‘weak’ for not sending off Angus Crichton in the final
Mal Meninga hailed the Kangaroos as a ‘great footy team’ and praised their commitment after Australia retained the Rugby League World Cup for a third straight time by beating Samoa 30-10.
But his counterpart Matt Parish, slammed referee Ashley Klein as ‘weak’ after the experienced NRL official failed to send Angus Crichton off in the final at Old Trafford.
The Aussies led 14-0 at halftime in the decider on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) and survived Crichton’s sin-bin early in the second half to run out comfortable winners.
Australia won the Rugby League World Cup after beating Samoa 30-10 in the final
Speaking after the Kangaroos’ 16-14 win in an epic semi-final win last week, Meninga suggested his team could perform even better on the biggest stage of all and his faith was repaid with a scintillating performance.
Australia were at their ruthless and clinical best in the opening 40 minutes, blowing Samoa away after the Pacific Islanders had had the better of the opening exchanges.
‘It’s fantastic, it’s one of those games […] the first half was exceptional,’ the Kangaroos boss told BBC Sport after the final whistle.
‘In the second-half we scrambled well defensively, one man down. That’s the mark of a great footy team, committed to each other. You know, [I’m] really happy for the boys.
Mal Meninga (middle) hailed his players as a ‘great footy team’ after they defended the title
The Covid-19 pandemic meant Australia had not played a Test in almost three years when they opened their tournament with a 42-8 win over Fiji last month.
Despite having slipped to No4 in the world rankings, the Kangaroos were the overwhelming favourites to win the World Cup and ahead of the final Meninga spoke of the importance of constantly raising the bar in the face of expectations.
His players emphatically lived up to the challenge and the Queensland legend, who lifted the World Cup as Australia’s captain in 1992, paid tribute to his troops.
‘They’re committed to each other. There is respect and humility for our jersey, for the opposition,’ he said.
Australia took the lead in the first half courtesy of Latrell Mitchell’s try
‘We brought our best game tonight. We’ve had a long year but have been rewarded for effort tonight. What a way to finish our 2022 season.’
Meninga singled out James Tedesco for praise, after the Kangaroos skipper scored two tries and finished with 202 metres and eight tackle busts from 20 runs in a performance that saw him named Player of the Match.
‘Tedesco was everywhere,’ he said.
James Tedesco quickly doubled the Kangaroos advantage with a breakaway try
The Aussie skipper added a superb second try deep into the second half to see his team home
‘He led the side really well through the week […] the way he trained, and his talks, were exceptional.’
The most controversial moment of the final came in the 45th minute when Crichton was carrying the ball and he braced for contact from Samoan hooker Chanel Harris-Tavita.
The Australian back-rower cocked his elbow and made contact with Harris-Tavita’s jaw, who instantly fell to the ground.
Australia lost Angus Crichton to a sin-bin early in the second half for a elbow hit
Samoa coach Matt Parish felt the incident deserved a harsher punishment instead
Klein sent Crichton to the sin bin but Parish argued there should have been a stronger punishment.
‘Five minutes into the second half and our hooker gets elbowed in the head and carted off,” Parish said.
‘The referee made a weak decision to put him in the bin. [I’m] dumbfounded.
‘An elbow to the head and he’s taken out of the game.’