Australia regains Rugby League World Cup

Updated 07 December 2013
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Australia regains Rugby League World Cup

MANCHESTER: Australia reclaimed the Rugby League World Cup from New Zealand in devastating style on Saturday, scoring five tries to cruise to a 34-2 victory in the most one-sided final in the competition’s 59-year history.
Billy Slater and Brett Morris both crossed twice and Cooper Cronk added the other try as the Kangaroos produced a near-flawless performance at Old Trafford to win the trophy for the 10th time in 14 editions.
New Zealand forward Sonny Bill Williams was bidding to become the first player to win World Cups in both rugby codes but his subdued performance was summed up when his pass was intercepted in the lead-up to Australia’s final try, a length-of-the-field score finished off by Morris.
The Australians finished without having conceded a try since their opening-day win over England five weeks ago. In their five matches since then, they shipped only four points in five matches, scoring 244.
For Australia’s 30-year-olds Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston, who kicked all seven of his goals, it completes the resumes of three of the modern-day rugby league greats. And it goes a long way to making up for the 2008 final, when New Zealand stunned its fierce rival in Brisbane to claim the sport’s biggest prize for the first time.
This was the heaviest victory in a final, eclipsing Australia’s 40-12 victory over the Kiwis in the same stadium in 2000.
Australia hadn’t been beaten in three years heading into the match but, crucially, New Zealand had defeated its great rival in three of the last four major finals they had met — in that 2008 World Cup and in the Four Nations in ‘05 and ‘10.
It quickly became apparent, though, that there would not be another upset here in a match played in front of 74,468 — a record crowd for an international.
Australia was sharper around the play-the-ball, made big yardage through the forward and made the most of New Zealand winger Roger Tuisava-Sheck’s injury withdrawal in only the seventh minute to make a raft of incisive attacks down its left channel. Two of their tries came down that flank.
A halftime scoreline of 16-2 didn’t flatter the Kangaroos — and their opponents walked off hands on hips, a punishing first 40 adding to the weariness after that epic semifinal victory over England last weekend.
Thurston and Shaun Johnson kicked goals in the opening 16 minutes before Australia’s attack started making serious inroads and Thurston’s perfectly judged kick was collected by the leaping Slater — soaring way above Kieran Foran — for the opening try in the 19th.
Slater was passed fit only on Thursday after making a quicker-than-expected recovery from a knee injury and his try double — and Australia’s victory — will be particularly sweet for the fullback, whose error gifted Benji Marshall a crucial try in the 2008 final.
Isaac Luke somehow held up Cronk over the line to deny the standoff a try in the 25th, but Cronk had the last laugh five minutes later when he collected Darius Boyd’s kick forward following another raid down the left to force himself over the line. Luke’s slip, just as Cronk gathered the ball, proved decisive.
Thurston converted again — in the process surpassing countryman Mick Cronin to become the record international point-scorer — and his penalty in the 36th gave the Australians a 14-point lead at the break.
New Zealand really needed to score next to make a game of it but it took less than a minute after the break for Slater to virtually clinch the trophy.
Again the Kiwis were exposed on their right, as Thurston set free Darius Boyd, who passed inside for Slater to race over.
Morris was next to cross after finishing a great move by diving to ground Jarryd Hayne’s kick forward before crashing into the advertising hoardings behind the short in-goal area.
The same duo combined for the crowning try in the 72nd, Hayne intercepting Williams’ hopeful miss-pass and sprinting 60 meters before offloading to Morris, who did the rest.


Maurizio Sarri does not fear the sack after Chelsea’s sorry show against Manchester United

Updated 19 February 2019
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Maurizio Sarri does not fear the sack after Chelsea’s sorry show against Manchester United

  • Italian still focused on job at hand with Blues out the FA Cup and falling in the Premier League.
  • Sarri has lost the fans in a short space of time at Stamford Bridge. (AFP)

LONDON: Maurizio Sarri insists he is not worried about being sacked as Chelsea manager despite his troubled side’s lacklustre FA Cup surrender against Manchester United.
Sarri faces a fight to save his job after FA Cup holders Chelsea crashed to a 2-0 fifth round defeat at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Ander Herrera headed United into the lead from Paul Pogba’s cross in the 31st minute.
France star Pogba doubled United’s advantage on the stroke of half-time when he met Marcus Rashford’s cross with a diving header.
Sarri endured chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as furious Chelsea fans showed their frustration at the club’s fifth defeat in their last 10 games.
Chelsea’s stars, publicly criticized by their manager on several occasions this term, hardly looked to be battling to keep the Italian as they failed to muster a shot on target after the 11th minute.
Sarri’s fragile relationship with his players, combined with the mutinous atmosphere among supporters, increased the feeling that the former Napoli boss might not survive until the end of his first season with Chelsea.
Demanding Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has acted quickly in the past when managers have been perceived to have lost the support of the squad.
But Sarri is adamant he isn’t concerned about his perilous position and he claimed he is solely focused on salvaging his club’s turbulent season.
Asked if he was worried Abramovich might be ready to wield the axe, Sarri said: “It’s not my problem.
“I was only worried about my position when I was in League 2 in Italy, not now.
“I am worried about the results, not about the fans. Of course I can understand the situation.
“I can understand our fans, because the result wasn’t really good. We are out of the FA Cup.”
Following widespread reports that Sarri’s players are underwhelmed by his stubborn refusal to change his tactics, the 60-year-old did make the alarming admission that he wasn’t certain he still had their backing.
“Of course I’m not sure, but I think so. I think the situation with the players is very good in terms of our relationship but that’s not so important,” he said.
“What’s important is to play and get good results.”
Chelsea supporters called for their club’s former legend Frank Lampard, now in charge at Derby, to be hired and directed foul-mouthed abuse at Sarri.
“Not really very well, but sometimes yes. For everything there is the first time,” he said when quizzed on if he heard the taunts from his own fans.
Sarri believes his situation will be improved significantly if Chelsea can string together a winning run, starting with Thursday’s Europa League last 32 second leg against Malmo and the League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday.
“It’s really very easy. If we are able to win three or four matches in a row, it will be easy. Of course it’s difficult to win five matches in a row,” he said with a curious smirk that suggested he didn’t really believe his own outward optimism.
“We need of course more aggression, more determination in the situation inside our box and inside the opposing box.
“My job is to work with my players to try and improve in a few days because we conceded the second goal without determination or aggression.
“The difference was there. We played 78 balls in the opposing box and United only 16 balls our box. We are supposed to win.”
Having previously questioned whether his players understood his football philosophy, Sarri repeated that complaint.
“Not completely at the moment because, especially in a situation like the second half, we have to move the ball faster mentally and materially,” he said.
“We need more movements without the ball and less individual actions.”