Australia captain James Tedesco put in a player-of-the-match performance to help the Kangaroos win their third men’s World Cup in a row and deny first-time finalists Samoa the chance of making history at Old Trafford

Last Updated: 19/11/22 6:55pm

Australia celebrate with the trophy following their Rugby League World Cup final win over Samoa

Australia celebrate with the trophy following their Rugby League World Cup final win over Samoa

Skipper James Tedesco led the way with a player-of-the-match display as Australia broke Samoa’s hearts and retained the men’s Rugby League World Cup with a 30-10 victory in the final at Old Trafford.

The first-time finalists appeared to be in the ascendancy at the start of the contest, but tries from Latrell Mitchell, full-back Tedesco and Liam Martin helped ensure it was the reigning champions who went into the break holding a 14-0 lead.

The Kangaroos were dealt a blow seven minutes into the second half when Angus Crichton was sin-binned for foul play which saw Samoa hooker Chanel Harris-Tavita forced to leave the field with a head injury in his last game before retiring.

Despite being down to 12 men, Australia pushed further ahead through a try from Cameron Murray and although Brian To’o’s converted score briefly raised hopes of a fightback for Samoa, full-back Tedesco crossed again with 12 minutes to go followed by Mitchell putting the seal on a third World Cup triumph in a row with his second.

Story of the game

Australia went into the final aiming to emulate the feat achieved by their women’s team earlier in the day by lifting the World Cup for the third tournament running, and what would be the 12th time since the men’s competition’s inception in 1954.

Samoa, on the other hand, were in unknown territory after reaching the rugby league’s international showpiece for the first time in their history. They would also have to beat the Kangaroos for the first time too, having lost all three previous meetings and conceded over 40 points in all of those.

The most recent meeting between these sides came in the last World Cup in 2017 when the Samoans were beaten 46-0 by the co-hosts in the quarter-finals.

Australia head coach Mal Meninga named an unchanged matchday 17 to the team which beat New Zealand in the semi-finals. Daly Cherry-Evans was included as 18th man.

Matt Parish made one injury-enforced change for Samoa, with Chanel Harris-Tavita coming in to start at hooker in his final game before retiring in place of Fa’manu Brown.

James Tedesco crossed twice as Australia kept their hold on the Rugby League World Cup

James Tedesco crossed twice as Australia kept their hold on the Rugby League World Cup

Yet they showed every sign of being able to match Australia blow for blow in a pulsating first 10 minutes which saw them dominating the territorial battle and being unfortunate not to have a 40-20 awarded when Tedesco appeared to have a foot in touch while attempting to keep Chanel Tavita-Harris’ kick in play.

The Kangaroos showed exactly why they have ruled the roost in the international game for so long though after their first real attack yielded the opening try on 14 minutes – much to the disappointment of the 67,502 crowd in Manchester who seemed to be mostly behind the Samoans.

The electric pace of Valentine Holmes got the holders on the front foot following a 20-metre restart. Then, after they had forced a goal-line drop-out, they retained possession and Cleary found Mitchell who threw a dummy and ghosted through the gap for an unconverted try wide on the left.

Four minutes later, Australia were in again as Josh Addo-Carr broke the line and then passed inside for skipper Tedesco to streak clear and finish under the posts, with Cleary adding the extras from a simple conversion attempt.

Australia: Tries – Latrell Mitchell (2), James Tedesco (2), Liam Martin, Cameron Murray; Goals – Nathan Cleary (3).

Samoa: Tries – Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton; Goal – Stephen Crichton.

Liam Martin touches down for Australia's third try

Liam Martin touches down for Australia’s third try

South Sydney Rabbitohs back Mitchell was then denied a second try when he knocked on just short of the line, and that led to a counter-attack from Samoa. However, they were unable to make the most of it even with a repeat set as Anthony Milford knocked on.

That loose ball was snaffled up by Reagan Campbell-Gillard and set motion a counter of their own from the Kangaroos, which was finished in the 30th minute when interchange hooker Harry Grant found Martin out of dummy-half for the second row to force his way over from close range.

Samoa continued to carve out chances though, with Taylan May twice being sent racing down the left touchline but being thwarted by the Australian defence, and they found themselves with a temporary man advantage on 47 minutes after Crichton was sin-binned for a stiff arm to the head of Harris-Tavita.

It was during this period they fell further behind though as scrum-half Cleary found Murray with a cut-out pass to send the interchange forward powering over for a converted try. However, Samoa were given a glimmer of hope on the hour as an attack finally yielded a reward when Kelma Tuilagi sent winger To’o over in the corner for a try converted by Stephen Crichton.

Brian To'o dives over to score for Samoa

Brian To’o dives over to score for Samoa

But those hopes were snuffed out when half-back partners Cleary and Munster combined to stretch the defence followed by the latter passing inside for Tedesco to burst over for his second of the night in the 68th minute.

Samoa centre Crichton’s interception try then proved little more than a consolation for the Pacific Islands, and Mitchell added some gloss to the final score for Australia by crossing on the last play of the game.

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