Greg Inglis leads Kangaroos into Four Nations final with comfortable win over Samoa
A magical first-half performance by Greg Inglis kept Australia's rocky Four Nations finals hopes alive with victory over Samoa.
While the eight try romp was the Kangaroos best performance of the tournament to date, they'll need to improve significantly to beat an inform New Zealand team in the Four Nations final in Wellington on Saturday.
Inglis was outstanding at fullback, scoring two first half tries, having a hand in another while saving another certain four-pointer by the Samoans in front of 18456 people at WIN Stadium. His two try effort took Inglis' try-scoring tally to 27 – eight behind Australia's greatest ever try-scorer Darren Lockyer – to push Inglis to fourth overall.
Ill-discipline cost the Samoans who continued to show glimpses of being able to mix it with the world's best teams. Samoa conceded seven first half penalties with Joey Leilua the worst offender giving away four as the Kangaroos raced to a 28-6 half-time lead. The result showed how far the Samoan's had developed since their only previous encounter, which the Kangaroos won 66-10 in 2000. And if it wasn't for a late try to Josh Mansour in the dying stages, Samoa would have enjoyed a second half victory.
The Kangaroos were much crisper with the ball as the combination between Inglis, Daly Cherry-Evans and Cooper Cronk grows but it will be their defence which will cause coach Tim Sheens most concern. While the Kangaroos only conceded three tries, it was through flimsy defence by their big men in the middle of the field that led to Australia leaking points.
Inglis starred against a willing Samoan side in a match with threatened to boil over at some stage with both teams clashing throughout. A bust by Inglis gave Australia's youngest ever Kangaroo Sione Mata'utia some space before passed to Cooper Cronk to open the try-scoring after just two minutes. The South Sydney fullback would have a try of his own nine minutes later when he touched the ball twice on the final tackle with went through at least four pairs of hands to extend the Kangaroos lead to 10.
In Samoa's first try-scoring opportunity individual effort, fullback Tim Simona shrugged away Kangaroos skipper and then went under the outreached arms of prop Aaron Woods to score. Samoa almost snatched the lead two minutes later, only for Inglis to hold up bench hooker Pita Godinet who looked certain to score out of dummy half. Having saved a try at the other end of the field, Inglis again found himself in the action, when he helped the Kangaroos to regain the ascendency with a 26 minute try.
Daly Cherry-Evans and David Klemmer completed the first half scoring for the Kangaroos. Samoa started the better of the two sides when play resumed after half-time.
Footwork by Samoan five-eighth Ben Roberts again caused concern for Australia's defence as he stepped past Woods, Sam Thaiday and Josh Papalii to open the second half scoring seven minutes after half-time. The Kangaroos had to wait until the 62nd minute to add to their first half tally when Cronk scored his second. Samoa continued their impressive second half performance when captain David Fa'alogo. Fa'alogo's defensive efforts couldn't match his attacking prowess, when he was badly beaten by a piece of agility and strength from Papalii to score with four minutes remaining. Papalii's inclusion as a starting front-rower to partner Woods, allowed for Thaiday and Greg Bird to return to their favoured edge back-row spots, giving the Kangaroos a better balanced side.
A runaway try to Mansour on the stroke of full-time ensured the Kangaroos would finish the second half as victors and an overall 26-point lead. It was the most points the Kangaroos had scored since beating the Kiwis in last year's World Cup final.
Samoan prop Mose Masoe was placed on report for a late tackle on Cronk midway through the second half. Meanwhile, the Kangaroos are expected to welcome back Beau Scott from a hamstring injury in time to face the Kiwis.
This article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9/11/2014