Josh Addo-Carr bagged four tries in a man-of-the-match performance, as a rampant Australia took a massive step towards the 2021 Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals in an 84-0 demolition job against Scotland at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
The Canterbury Bulldogs flyer headlined a fifteen-try rout steered by the boot of half-back Nathan Cleary on his Kangaroos debut, as Mal Meninga’s side proved several classes above Nathan Graham’s struggling Bravehearts.
Having been put through their paces in their first full-blown international match since 2019 with their opening Group B victory over Fiji last week, there was no such rustiness in horrendous conditions in the West Midlands this time around, as the green and gold sent records tumbling.
It means they move to the top of their pool, with just one game to go against Italy, who could rubber-stamp the former’s effective progression with a win over the Bati this weekend.
From the first play, when Scotland conceded a goal-line drop-out fielding the kick-off, it was clear that – in a fetching yellow and tartan blue change strip – they would be in for a long night.
Addo-Carr, fast becoming a sensation on British shores after lighting up the NRL for several years, certainly left them trailing in his wake with a serious of outrageous finishes in the left corner.
But in a much-changed side headlined by the inclusion of several players from Penrith Panthers’ NRL Grand Final-winning side – including Cleary – Australia had quality across the board to spare as they racked up the points.
The result is Scotland’s record defeat, as well as the largest nil-scoreline in RLWC history – and with their eyes firmly on defending their crown at Old Trafford next month, it seems it will take something special to dethrone the Kangaroos.
If one player has lit up the tournament so far, it is Addo-Carr, nicknamed the Foxx. The winger, a two-time NRL winner with Melbourne Storm, famously topped the scoring charts domestically in 2017 but was overlooked for the subsequent RLWC on home soil.
Now, he has defied critics and media pundits who suggested a move to Canterbury would signal the end of his representative days to emerge as a key face for the Kangaroos. Meninga will have headaches elsewhere though – such as whether Cleary keeps his spot ahead of the veteran Daly Cherry-Evans, and how to fit all his thrilling pack options in.
Scotland will have been happy to hear the full-time whistle following one of the most miserable matches they have endured in memory – but tournament organisers will be happy to have seen the number of people who caught it.
There were 10,276 in attendance on a wet Friday evening in the West Midlands, outside of rugby league’s heartland in England. That is a figure possibly down on pre-pandemic tournament hopes; after a week where bosses have been fielding questions over half-empty stadiums, a five-figure gate, if pockmarked in the much-larger Coventry Building Society Arena, is still a win.
The Sporting News is following the match live, providing score updates and commentary below.
Tries: Addo-Carr (4), Wighton (2), Crichton, Graham (3), Cleary, Tedesco, Grant, Burton, Yeo
Conversions: Cleary (12)
FT: That’s going to bring us to a close here today – but week two at RLWC2021 is only just getting started. Tomorrow, England can take a massive step towards the knockout rounds too against France in Bolton, while New Zealand will square off with tournament new boys Jamaica in Hull. Join us then!
🇦🇺 The World Cup winners were on another planet tonight.
✅ Australia’s biggest win to nil
✅ Scored more tries tonight than eight sides managed through the whole of RLWC2017
✅ 90.1% tackle effectiveness#RLWC2021 | #AUSSCO | @Kangaroos pic.twitter.com/ZVFN5WfrJg
FT: Addo-Carr is beaming away as he conducts post-match interviews. In what may well be considered a major boost for organisers, attendance in Coventry – a non-heartland area the sport has struggled to crack – is a respectable 10,276.
FT: Both sides exchange handshakes, hugs and shirts. There’s not much Scotland can say – they were outclassed ruthlessly, in composure, in nous, in attack, in defence, in just about every area but spirit. It is more than a chastening result; it is a morale-breaker, and their opponents have the good grace to know that too. Warm embraces all around.
FT: Australia 84-0 Scotland. It is a record-breaking result in Coventry, as Australia emphatically shake off any remaining rust to level Scotland in Group B of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup! Josh Addo-Carr bags four in a fifteen-try rout that saw the Kangaroos inflict the biggest defeat upon the Bravehearts in their history. What a night in the pouring rain.
80 mins: In the final seconds of this match, Australia make an error from the kick-off – and Scotland have a play-the-ball in the opposition’s 20-metre area! Any hopes of late points are dashed when they lose it in the tackle – and that will be that!
79 mins: TRY: Australia 84-0 Scotland! ADDO-CARR HAS SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST! It’s four for the Foxx, as the Kangaroos keep the ball alive with a flick off the line from Burton. He gets it to his winger, who grubbers down to the corner, beats the Bravehearts chase and leaps on it in the pouring rain! Cleary misses the kick.
🤯 STOP THAT!
Matt Burton with an unreal pass to Addo-Carr, who finishes a stunner#RLWC2021 | #AUSSCO | @BBCSport pic.twitter.com/sSdDBIOxNE
77 mins: TRY: Australia 80-0 Scotland! Yeo will put likely the final bit of gloss on a demolition job for the ages! Munster jerks a kick back on himself, Hunt collects close to the posts, and offloads to stick the Penrith man in for a deserving finish. Cleary converts.
74 mins: TRY: Australia 74-0 Scotland! A second Kangaroos hat-trick of the night, and this one goes to Graham! The Bravehearts lose the ball in their own half, their opponents work it wide, and the Parramatta man dots down the short grubber in the corner. Cleary converts.
70 mins: So, there we have it. Unless Scotland find some points in the last 12 minutes here, this will be the biggest scoreline with a team drawing a blank in RLWC history. It has been an awful night at the office for the Bravehearts. Take nothing away from Australia, who have oozed class – but their opponents have suffered and more.
66 mins: TRY: Australia 68-0 Scotland! Burton crowns his green and gold bow with a try! Moments after Graham his held up on the right flank, his team-mate is the recipient of a huge overlap, and sails over on the right. Cleary converts.
64 mins: Handbags at dawn! Bain is in the middle of a scrap as both teams fly in. It’s all over nothing, and play will roll on.
59 mins: TRY: Australia 62-0 Scotland! Graham gets his second meat pie! A penalty for a tackle off the ball out wide on the right lays the platform for a simple play, with the Kangaroos darting over with a sharp dummy on that flank. It’s worse for the Bravehearts – Linnett is in the sin bin for the original offence. Cleary shanks the conversion wide.
54 mins: Magnificent Scottish defence, absolutely magnificent! For possibly the first time this evening, the Bravehearts hold the fort on their try-line with a Herculean effort, stopping close moves from Martin, Cleary and Burton. This crowd, mixed with fans of both nations, roars them on, united for an underdog moment.
49 mins: TRY: Australia 58-0 Scotland! Ten tries up for the Kangaroos – and a hat-trick for the Foxx! Addo-Carr has his third of the night as, out of the back of a scrum, Australia simply shuffle it fast to the left and let the winger round the straggling defence to race away and finish. Cleary converts.
44 mins: TRY: Australia 52-0 Scotland! That’s the half-century! The Kangaroos work the gap from dummy half, and Hunt takes on a flat pass from Munster to simply cruised through under the posts from ten metres out. Those records are going to tumble. Cleary converts.
43 mins: With a game already gone, Walker opts for a short dribble kick-off. Cleary is alert to it, but that’s the kind of invention Scotland might have to show to keep this marginally more respectable than it will be.
41 mins: TRY: Australia 46-0 Scotland! We’re back underway – and the Kangaroos are over again! Tedesco crashes through the middle after he supplies a fast break. He’s tackled, but the captain rears up a play in support, before dragging the defenders over the line by brute force. Cleary converts.
HT: As for something else Scotland want to avoid? Their own record loss – coincidentally set during the last RLWC, when they lost 74-6 to New Zealand in Christchurch. In terms of both points conceded and margin of defeat, it is severely under threat here.
HT: We expected a comfortable win, but not necessarily a record-breaking one – so let’s look at what is at stake now for Scotland. The biggest defeat in RLWC history was suffered by Russia in 2000, when they were beaten 110-4 by Australia – a game which also holds the record for the most points in a single match. The biggest tournament victory where one side drew a blank also includes the Kangaroos, with their 66-0 win over Fiji in 1995.
HT: It is hard to pick out a standout face in that first half – Addo-Carr with his lethal pace, Wighton with his shrewd ball skills, Martin with his hands – the list goes on. But in a running debate over who Australia’s half-back partnership should be, Cleary is making a very convincing case to dethrone Daly Cherry-Evans for the rest of this tournament. He has been near-faultless.
HT: Australia 40-0 Scotland. It’s history in the making in Coventry – Australia have effectively got one foot into the 2021 Rugby League World Cup knockout stages, if they didn’t already, with an absolute demolition job on Scotland. The Bravehearts have been battered more than a haddock in a chip shop – and there’s scant suggestion it is going to get any better for them.
40 mins: Walmsley seizes on the final Australia kick of the half, and is smothered in defence. The hooter goes – and it is blessed relief for Scotland. This has been an annihilation for the ages.
39 mins: Australia are just toying with Scotland now. The Bravehearts have a moment of creative fire, but Tedesco seizes upon their open-play kick and the Kangaroos promptly return with a punt of their own, Addo-Carr just coming up late in the foot-race to claim it.
35 mins: TRY: Australia 40-0 Scotland! Now Wighton has a brace too! The work is all from Martin though – the Penrith forward slips through a gap with a fantastic feint at pace, and flicks the ball back inside for the finish. Coventry has its share of Kangaroos-supporting fans in – there’s a roar for that bit of work! Cleary converts.
🦘 The Kangaroos are well and truly bouncing!
Wighton goes over again for Australia, who are on another level so far.#RLWC2021 | #AUSSCO pic.twitter.com/rC4KXIugt9
32 mins: TRY: Australia 34-0 Scotland! Stop the count! A rare Kangaroos error allows Scotland field territory but Hayward spills in the tackle on the opposition’s 40-metre line. Addo-Carr collects, and goes from zero to a hundred in a matter of moments, sailing away down the left flank to finish. This is just brutal stuff. Cleary converts.
28 mins: TRY: Australia 28-0 Scotland! Normal service has been resumed. The Kangaroos demolish the Bravehearts with ruthless pace and power – and then a six-again call breaks the latter, allowing Cleary to shrug off two tacklers and dart in to finish under the posts. He converts.
25 mins: It’s taken the better part of half-an-hour, but Scotland finally have a play-the-ball inside Australia’s territory! Walker recovers an Addo-Carr grubber and puts the Kanagroos defence on high alert; moments after forcing their way over the halfway line, Linnett passes the ball into touch.
21 mins: TRY: Australia 22-0 Scotland! Graham makes it four for the green and gold! Cleary does the early work, sending the Bravehearts into back-pedal mode, and though they scramble well, they can’t hold the Parramatta man up as he bulldozes his way to the try-line. Cleary converts.
15 mins: TRY: Australia 16-0 Scotland! Three tries in the first quarter-hour for the Kangaroos! If there was any rustiness to their performance at first flush against Fiji last week, there’s no such problem here. Walker spills a high bomb, several players race after and miss it, and then Crichton is there to simply tap it onto the turf. Cleary converts.
11 mins: TRY: Australia 10-0 Scotland! We might be less than a quarter into this game, but we could be looking at a cricket score in these conditions. It’s all too easy for the Kangaroos; Martin lays on the run, and then Wighton sends the defence the wrong way to slip in on the right. Cleary converts.
6 mins: TRY: Australia 4-0 Scotland! The pressure tells! Addo-Carr spin the ball out wide to the left after trapping the Bravehearts in their own half, and it’s a simple – well, he makes it look simple! – leap into the corner for the Foxx. Cleary pulls the conversion wide.
2 mins: An absolute disaster of a start for the Bravehearts, as they field the kick-off and take it out of play. Their short goal-line drop-out almost foxes the Kangaroos, but they recover, and a grubber through is dotted down by Cleary on debut – but the video referee deems Walker grounded it in-goal first! Scotland are let off the hook.
KO: Here we go then! Australia kick off on what is a truly filthy night in the West Midlands and away we go in this 2021 Rugby League World Cup encounter!
5 mins to KO: Scotland are in their change strip tonight – and what a change strip it is! A beefy yellow colour with red trim, it’s more stylish than their first-choice kit, if we might say so. Anthems are over and we are moments away from kick-off.
10 mins to KO: Here come the teams, ready for the national anthems. But we’ll have a minute of silence beforehand to remember Liam Hampson, the 24-year-old Redcliffe Dolphins player who tragically passed away earlier this week while on holiday in Barcelona. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and club at this time.
20 mins to KO: It has been absolutely bucketing it down in Coventry today, but organisers – and critics – are likely to be keeping an eye on the crowd figures. Head Jon Dutton – who has helped crack some major markets and battled all manner of obstacles – hopes it is on track to become the most-attended edition in history. There’ll be a lot of empty seats outside of the heartland here though.
30 mins to KO: It has been six years since Australia and Scotland last squared off, in the 2016 Four Nations. On that occasion, the Kangaroos inflicted a hefty 54-12 defeat upon their rivals, with braces for the legendary Cooper Cronk and winger Josh Mansour – now playing with Lebanon. Just one player from the green and gold survives to this match – Manly back-rower Jake Trbojevic.
40 mins to KO: But while Mal Meninga’s side are hoping to make it three triumphs on the bounce, Nathan Graham’s side are likely looking at an early tournament exit. The Bravehearts had hoped to defeat Italy last weekend, setting up a likely winner-takes-all clash for second in Group B with Fiji. History did not pan out that way though – and things are not likely to get any easier tonight.
50 mins to KO: For those who need a swift reminder then, Australia are twice-defending champions entering this competition, albeit without much in the way of international rugby under their belts in recent years. But the way they dismantled the Bati, their frontrunner credentials remain intact.
60 mins to KO: The lineups are in and you can see them below – but the headline news surrounds two of the creative playmakers both sides will rely on. For Australia, Nathan Cleary makes his bow in the green and gold, fresh from leading Penrith Panthers to back-to-back NRL Grand Final triumphs. For Scotland, it is a blow – there is no Ryan Brierley to help steer them around the park.
70 mins to KO: It’s been a terrifically successful tournament in terms of on-field action so far – and both sides here have played their part in that. In front of a five-figure crowd at Headingley last Saturday, Australia showed why they are heavy favourites against Fiji – and then in Newcastle, Scotland suffered the first shock of the tournament against a grit-tooth Italy side. On paper, this latest clash is only going one way.
80 mins to KO: Here we are then – week two of RLWC2021. On-field matters have been matched as much by off-field discussions – ticket sales, pricing issues – to which organisers have been pleasantly forthright. But now, with a full round of games in the bag, everybody will be kicking on.
90 mins to KO: Hello and welcome to live coverage of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, as Australia face off with Scotland in a Group B clash at the Coventry Building Society Arena!
🔒 The squads are in ahead of Australia v Scotland!
Nathan Cleary is amongst the debutants starting for the Kangaroos – will their impressive World Cup winning run continue tonight?#RLWC2021 | #AUSSCO pic.twitter.com/P5waTD3mgi