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Three is the magic number as Latrell and Tedesco fire Kangaroos to third successive World Cup

MANCHESTER – Bow Down To The Kings. The stadium DJ has been playing the Mötorhead hit after every Australian try at this World Cup, and with 52 of them to choose from at this tournament, it has become a more than familiar refrain.

This might have been the most dominant performance of the lot. Samoa, who went down 30-10 in the end, were strangled by this superb Kangaroos side. Every miniscule error was punished.

Jarome Luai kicked slightly too long early on and within moments Latrell Mitchell had scored. Oregon Kaufusi was momentarily offside in defence and seconds later, James Tedesco was under the posts. Cam Munster stole the ball, Cam Murray crossed.

It was a day on which everything had to go Samoa’s way, but despite the assistance of the vast majority of the 67,502 crammed inside Old Trafford cheehooing their every touch, they barely left a mark on the juggernaut.

Mal Meninga has been criticised for rotating his team, but in the end, he found exactly what he was looking for. Nathan Cleary, though still wayward from the tee, ran the show in attack, ably assisted by Cameron Munster.

Tedesco, quiet for the most part at this World Cup, picked the perfect moment to produce his best and proved uncontrollable from the back. He won man of the match in the stadium and few could argue while his second try, off a superb Munster inside ball, was the best piece of play all night and underlined how superior the Kangaroos could be when they wanted to be.

Latrell Mitchell had been questioned in the lead-up, but had all the answers, opening and closing the scoring in typically authoritative fashion. Val Holmes kept battering in and Josh Addo-Carr did the same. He didn’t manage his record 13th try of the tournament, leaving him level with his wing partner’s number from 2013.

It’s hard to pick fault in Samoa. They never stopped trying and threw plenty of attack, but this Australia side are far too good. Junior Paulo and Jarome Luai, in particular, kept going until the final whistle.

They’d already won by getting this far, and could have been excused for playing like their final was last week, but turned up again with full gusto.

Samoa did start well, but didn’t get the rub of the green as a 40/20 from Harris-Tavita wasn’t spotted by the linesman. On a day that required everything to go right for them, it was an early indication that they wouldn’t.

The expected gaps didn’t take long to appear. Luai kicked long and gifted a tap restart, which Jack Wighton returned with interest through an unset line. Once they entered the Samoan end, Australia did not leave until they had points, acquired through a strong Mitchell carry that battered Joseph Suaalii out of the way.

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Again, the Samoans were the architects of their own downfall. Oregon Kaufusi went early in the line and, rather than be caught offside, he opted to wait. Addo-Carr ran straight through the hole and dumped inside for Tedesco to score. One wonders if he mightn’t have been better simply taking his chances with the ref.

Samoa rotated their middles, and with a fresh Martin Taupau and Josh Papali’i on the field, enjoyed their best spell. They might have scored when Suaalii took an attacking kick, or moments later, when Harris-Tavita was held up, but instead, the Kangaroos went straight up the other end and barged over through Martin.

14-0 down at the break, Matt Parish’ men needed a break. They got one, with an Angus Crichton brainsnap earning him a ten minute sit down after raising an elbow to Harris-Tavita.

Tiny May got himself over, but only after a forward pass. The Kangaroos, to their credit, treated it like the hardest possible defensive drill and batted Toa Samoa away.

Even a man light, Munster was able to steal the ball from Spencer Leniu, and within seconds, Cleary slipped Murray over for his fifth try of this tournament.

There was respite coming. Samoa began to put some air under the ball and got rewards, with Laui tempting Mitchell to go for the intercept and, when he missed, Brian To’o got in behind for a well-received try.

Though the crowd went up, the Kangaroos kep calm. Munster, again, proved the difference with the deftest of inside passes that sent Tedesco streaking to the line.

Stephen Crichton then picked off a Ben Hunt pass – what is a major final these days without a Stephen Crichton intercept try? – and restored Samoan hope, but the last laugh was Australia’s as Mitchell ran in one with 20 seconds to play.

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