Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
After a competitive first half, the French have succumb to the Australian juggernaut with the Kangaroos comfortable 52-6 winners in Canberra to open the second weekend of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
A first half hat-trick to Wade Graham was more than enough for the Aussies to go on with the job, taking a 20-6 lead to halftime. The Kangaroos didn't have it all their own way early - France's defence (and a little ill discipline from the hosts) keeping the Aussies honest until Graham's first in the tenth minute.
Things looked concerning when just two minutes later Graham had another - but it became a wake-up call for les Tricolores, and they managed to narrow the margin to four when Mark Kheirallah ran the length of the field to score his side's only points of the evening.
Australia held a 10-6 lead until the half hour mark, when a pair of tries - Graham's third and another for Josh Dugan ensured the green-and-gold were healthy leaders at the break.
Down 20-6, France came out with some physicality early in the second half but there were too many weak links, Cameron Munster starting Australia off on the right foot after just two minutes when he danced into the left corner.
Tyson Frizell was on hand to add to France's pain as the floodgates seemed to open, and when Billy Slater capitalised on a middle-third raid to score the 'Roos seventh, it was all over bar the shouting.
Graham capped a memorable night with fifteen minutes remaining when he strolled over for his fourth meat-pie, the result then iced in the final ten minutes when Munster scored his second and interchange back Valentine Holmes grabbed one of his own to eclipse the half-century for the Australians and set up a special clash with the Lebanese side next Saturday.
There were some injury concerns to consider with Tyson Frizell sidelined late in the game, but the bigger concern for Mal Meninga is who to choose over the coming weeks, with several fringe players staking a claim for positions in the win.
For France it was an admirable performance against a far more powerful side - they'll face long-time rivals England next weekend in Perth before they fly home.
Australia 52 - France 6
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
Halftime Score: Australia 20 France 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Wade Graham
2 points - Felise Kaufusi
1 points - Billy Slater
Tries: Wade Graham (4), Josh Dugan, Cameron Munster (2), Tyson Frizell, Billy Slater, Valentine Holmes
Conversions: Cameron Smith (6/8), Cameron Munster (0/2)
Tries: Mark Kheirallah
Conversions: Remy Marginet (1/1)