Australia manager Mal Meninga beamed with pride after his side started the second round of the 2021 World Cup with a merciless 84-0 win over Scotland in Coventry.
After a 42-8 opening win over Fiji, the Kangaroos upped the ante against their superior opponents, running 15 unanswered tries, four of them by winger Josh Addo-Carr.
“We knew we had improved a bit, particularly in our executions, and we excelled tonight,” Meninga said.
“I am very happy with the performance. It’s early days so we won’t get carried away, but I can’t criticize any of it. I thought we were very good.
“We came with a clear plan and we stuck to it. Our ball control in these conditions was fantastic.
“The lads work very hard for each other and they lasted the 80 minutes, I’m pleased, our attitude and mindset is really good.”
Half-back Nathan Cleary pressed his claims for a starting role ahead of rival Daly Cherry-Evans with 28 points from one try and 12 goals on the debut, but Meninga kept quiet about his plans for the rest of the tournament.
“It’s a different opposition,” Meninga said. “We’re patient with that.
“Nathan now feels part of the team. He’s in there now, talking and joking, he certainly had a great game tonight.”
Addo-Carr was named man of the match after scoring the second hat-trick of the tournament before capping off a sensational performance with a stunning fourth try near the end, but he preferred to talk about the team.
“I thought it was a great team effort,” said Addo-Carr. “The most pleasing thing was that we kept them on zero.
“We wanted to play the Australian way and I think we did. We were tough, resilient, ruthless.”
Scotland manager Nathan Graham admitted his largely part-time team had been outclassed.
“We played against the best players in the world,” he said. “I would say 75 percent of our players are part-time players and getting to that standard is a massive, massive task.
“I thought we competed at times, but in terms of fitness, skill and the monotonous way they play. If you miss half a game or make a mistake, you will be punished immediately and that is what happened tonight.”
According to Graham, forward Sam Luckley and center Bayley Liu retired from the team at lunchtime on the day of the game due to illness but expect to be back for the final group game against Fiji in Newcastle next weekend when he hopes his side can some respect can save .
“We always went out with the intention of enjoying this tournament,” he said. “A lot of our players work during the day, for these guys it’s a massive thing to be involved with.
“Fiji is another big challenge for us but we’ll be doing a body count – we’ve had some illnesses in camp – and hopefully we can get going next week.”
To add to the Bravehearts’ misery, winger Campbell Graham, who was set to play for them before the Kangaroos came, scored a hat-trick on his debut but Graham still hopes he will one day play for Scotland.
“We’ve always known the situation with Campbell,” Graham said. “If he wasn’t in the Australian squad, he would always be in ours.
“As soon as he was chosen, I got on the fan and wished him well. It’s his country of birth, but I know he wants to represent his legacy in the future. We’ll see how that goes.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/australia-scotland-nathan-cleary-coventry-fiji-b2208184.html I can’t criticize any of it – Mal Meninga praises Australia’s performance after a big win