Australia coach Mal Meninga hailed the record-breaking feat of winger Valentine Holmes, whose five-try haul helped the Kangaroos become the first team to reach the World Cup semi-finals with a hugely impressive 46-0 victory over Samoa.
The Cronulla winger went one better than team-mate Wade Graham, who scored four tries against France in a group match in Canberra, as the Kangaroos produced a clinical performance against a disappointing Samoan team in front of a sold-out crowd in Darwin. “Five tries is fantastic,” Meninga said.
“He put himself in that position.
“He runs hard every time he gets an opportunity, his support play was really good, he got highly involved so he deserved it. He deserved the reward that he gets by putting in all that effort.”
It was a 10th consecutive World Cup win for the Kangaroos, who will play either New Zealand or Fiji in Brisbane next Friday for a place in the final.
Veteran full-back Billy Slater was also among the try-scorers, drawing level with former team-mate Jarryd Hayne as the leading try-scorer in World Cup history on 14, while Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith kicked seven goals from eight attempts in his record-equalling 15th World Cup match.
“I’m very happy defensively once again, holding them to nil which is fantastic,” Meninga added. “I’m happy with the players the way they mix and the way they support each other. Certainly in the game that shows. It was tough out there, the conditions were pretty tough, but they kept on hanging in there. It’s all positive at this stage. We want to improve every week.”
It was routine for the Kangaroos from the moment impressive centre Josh Dugan palmed the ball back from Cooper Cronk’s kick for Holmes to grab his first try on eight minutes.
Right winger Dane Gagai lost the ball going for the line before Holmes took a return pass from Cronk to claim his second while Slater went over for his landmark try on 23 minutes to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Samoa simply could not get a toehold in the game and Morgan put the game beyond them when he touched down twice in six minutes before the break, dummying his way over for his first and following up Smith’s grubber kick to double his tally.
Smith took his goal tally to five as Australia led 30-0 at the break and there was little let-up in the second half.
Tyson Frizell was held up over the line 10 minutes into the second half but there was no stopping Holmes as he accepted a bullet pass from Slater to complete his hat-trick.
Homes then finished off a break by Michael Morgan for try number four and rounded off the scoring with his fifth seven minutes from the end.
Samoa coach Matt Parish admitted his team’s display was “pretty disappointing”.
“Again lots of effort but just not one of our better performances once again,” he said.
“It’s been probably the story of our World Cup. Too many mistakes, in the first half they had 21 sets, we had 11.”