LONDON, ENGLAND – The last round of the Rugby League World Cup saw few shocks, although the Cook Islands demolition of a poor Wales team and Tonga’s rough housing of Italy could be classified as minor one.
Scotland vs U.S.A: Unfortunately the Tomahawks incredible winning streak came to a close after being on the wrong end of this 22-8 loss. Scotland were slick and Danny Brough is showing why he earned the 2013 Super League Man of Steel Award, pulling the strings with aplomb. More to the point Scotland showed a fighting spirit that will hold them in good stead in the quarters as they came back from 8-0 down. However it is there that they will face the mighty Kiwis and the USA do not get off any better, set to meet the Australians in their quarter final. This may be the end of the road for both these teams, but what a road it has been!
New Zealand vs Papua New Guinea: The World Champions were utterly merciless, striking within two minutes of the kick off and never stopping. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck added to his tournament total with another two, including a strong push for the line from a Kieran Foran spiral bomb. After his slip up a week earlier, SBW nabbed himself three tries and Dean Whare got two. Other contributions along with a healthy goal tally meant that the Kiwis ran out 56-10 winners, and are looking to have hit ominously good form for the knockout stages.
England vs Fiji: A heavy hitting, family affair, saw four sets of brothers play in this game, the Burgess three, the Sims three, the Naiqama two and the Millard two. A hard hitting, attritional first half was brought to life when a clinical Fiji move put Eloni Vunakece over for a try, England were galvanized and Ben Westwood went over before the half. The second half saw England come alive, a blistering 18 minutes saw them pull six tries back. The second half turned into a romp as England showed their attacking flair, two tries from Ryan Hall including one absolute jaw dropper put down any more Fijian resistance. However worries will persist over their inability to break down a stubborn first half defence by the Fijians. England face off against France, whilst the clash of the quarters will be between Fiji and Samoa.
Australia vs Ireland: Men against boys. Australia ran rampant against an inadequate Irish team. A try after 90 seconds from Jarryd Hayne set the tone for a one sided affair. The Australians, whilst they may not be coming off the back of hard fixtures, will be flying high on confidence as they march into the knockout stages to face an inspired Tomahawks team.
Tonga vs Italy: The power and experience of the Tongans was finally brought to bear in this must win clash for both sides. A low scoring 16-0 victory, highlighted the potential of the Tongans, however it will be too little too late as both these sides are going home. But make no mistake Italy and Tonga have reiterated their credentials as strong competitive teams, long may it last.
Wales vs Cook Islands: Whilst it would be harsh to call this the final ignominy for Wales, there is no doubt that they have had a shocking tournament, and the Cook Islands are simply too good a side to not take seriously. The first victory for the unfortunate Cook Islanders was by no means cut and dried. An at the death try helping seal it for the Cook Islanders, who whilst they have only won one game, have thrown up several NRL names that hopefully they will have access to in the future. If their luck holds they will still have Brad Takairangi, Isaac John and Dominic Peyroux. As for Wales? Back to the drawing board.
Samoa vs France: The final game of the group stages saw a very physical Samoan side flatten a spirited and feisty French team. Level at 6-6 at half time, Samoa turned up the heat in the second half, with man of the match and rookie superstar Anthony Milford scoring a scintillating try. Samoa will be looking to go deep into the knockout stages when they play Fiji in the quarter finals and France will have their work cutout against a determined if slightly undercooked England side.
And there you have it, the final group matches! Next time around we will be focusing on the wondrous exploits of the four remaining sides. Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann and Declan Yeats, respectively.