Wrexham, England: After an impressive opening week to the 2013 edition of the Rugby League World Cup, Week 2 promised to be equally as exciting, with the Tier 2 nations providing fireworks and reminding everyone how important it is to grow rugby league in the far flung regions of the planet.
New Zealand vs France: Another thrashing doled out by the current World Champions, and it was a case of queuing up to get over the line. Frank Paul Nu’uausala and Shaun Johnson crossed twice. Try scoring machine Roger Tuivasa-Sheck again got on the scoreboard. Despite resting SBW, the Kiwis still look ominous. The Australians may be taking their time to find top gear, but the Kiwis are resembling a runaway steamroller. If they should meet in the final, it will be a case of the rapier against the baseball bat.
England vs Ireland: Both coming off the back of painful losses, this game was a must win for both teams in order to progress into the next stage of the World Cup. In truth however, this was a one sided affair from the opening whistle. England ran roughshod over the men in green. Ryan Hall got a first half hat trick and Ireland never even looked in the contest, the game effectively over after 24 minutes with the score at 30-0. England added to this total after half time with the final score 42-0. England showing their attacking potentcy however the Fijians are up next and they pose a more substantial threat to the hosts.
Australia vs Fiji: A good-natured affair turned into a cakewalk for the Kangaroos with a 34-2 blowout. Fiji, despite boasting some power punching forwards in the Sims brothers (all THREE of them!), could not match the slick skills of the Aussies and the blunt force power of Greg Inglis. The Aussies new generation were on show with Josh Papalii, Daly Cherry Evans and Michael Jennings chalking up tries. Fiji got an early penalty from Alipate Noilea but after that the traffic was one way. The only downside was the appalling dislocated shoulder suffered by warhorse, Luke Lewis, as he slid into an advertising hoarding. To make matters worse their request to replace Lewis has been denied.
Scotland vs Italy: This is what the World Cup is about, a good old fashioned try fest at a good old fashioned rugby league heartland stadium (Oh Workington Town, we hardly knew ye……no really, NEVER HEARD OF IT! And I’m English!). In what some would consider a surprise, the Scots marched to a 14-0 lead, with the Italians fighting back to a 14-12 half-time score. Again Scotland fired their way in to a 26-18 lead shortly after half time and again the Italians fought back, their NRL leaders coming to the fore in Mark and Anthony Minichello. A final moment of brilliance by Danny Brough set up a draw with the conversion to win the game. After slotting five goals he could only be expected to finish off an historic victory for the Scots. But it was not to be.
Wales vs United States: The established order of rugby league was rocked by a bunch of part-timers thrown together with one or two pros. The all-conquering Tomahawks gave out a shellacking that will live long in the memory and has kick started a tidal wave of support in their favour, even including a song written by Australian band The Wiggles. No more temperamental Joseph Paulo, he is the architect of this team. Dubious for Parramatta Eels, he is soaring on the thermals of greatness, many arguing that his face should be on Mount Rushmore. In this game his NRL sidekick Clint Newton proved the difference, scoring twice to help the Tomahawks to a 24-16 victory. But it is the United States based players that are truly outstanding. Craig Priestly, a personal trainer, is looking fast and alert, and is proving that the pros are by no means untouchable. As for Wales, they have had a poor World Cup, never taking advantage when the opportunities arrived and seeming deflated when trailing, even with powerhouses in their pack such as Craig Kopczak, Tyson Frizell and Ben Flower.
Papua New Guinea vs Samoa: The Samoans finally hit their stride in this fixture. Their first score came within 2 minutes, thus deflating a PNG side that had yet to register a win in this episode of the tournament. Samoan winger Antonio Winterstein scored a hat-trick and was ably assisted by a pack that is starting to hit its stride. After a harsh loss to the Kiwis, the Samoans will be righteously angry that they did not capitalize on their come back. Add to this giant replacement forward Tony Puletua, coming in to replace Reni Maitua and you have a team that will be a force in the knockout stages. The PNG Kumuls though are not looking as intense or intimidating as they used to be. Their hard edge has worn away, and they will be looking to regroup for their next game against the Kiwis.
Tonga vs Cook Islands: Whilst their future lies in the hands of the Tomahawks beating the Scots, the Tongans showed that they will be a threat if they make it through to the knockout stages. Despite a gallant effort by a strong Cook Islands side and hat trick hero Chris Taripo, Tonga were too strong. Ultimately if they get stuck with a tactical game they can revert back to a power running game, demonstrated ably by Konrad Hurrell and Jason Taumalolo pancaking opposition players on their way to tries that secured the victory for the Mate Ma’a. Captain Brent Kite begged for the US to beat the Scots and in truth a knockout stage with the Tongans would be considerably more exciting and precarious for the big three of England, NZ and Australia.
So clearly the motto for next week is COME ON YOU TOMAHAWKS! And here is their highly popular youtube video of the Wiggles’s tribute to the USA Tomahawks
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