RLWC Match Report: Australia v Samoa
In steaming hot conditions at Darwin Stadium, Holmes scored two tries in the first half before running in another three in the second, to cap off a record-breaking match which saw Australia notch-up their 10th straight World Cup victory.
Australian fullback Billy Slater, retook his place alongside Jarryd Hayne for most tries in World Cup history after his four-pointer in the opening half. While Melbourne Storm teammate Cameron Smith, equaled Bob Fulton’s record of 15 World Cup appearances in the green and gold jersey.
As Samoa kicked off to start the first ever game of international Rugby League in Darwin, the howling wind slowed down to a slight breeze making the hot conditions even hotter for the players.
In the eighth minute of the match, compound errors from Samoa gifted Australia easy passage down the field for Cooper Cronk to put up a short chip over the defence for Australia’s first try of the match.
Dugan outleaped his opposition to tap the ball back for Holmes who superbly plucked the ball off his shoestrings to score Australia’s first points of the game.
Following the try, Australia started to find their rhythm as things started to look dire for Samoa.
And just eight minutes later, Holmes got his second of the night after linking with Cooper Cronk for a scintillating coast-to-coast effort.
Picking the ball up on his own try line, Holmes blitzed Samoa’s defence running 20 metres upfield before unloading to Cooper Cronk who quickly returned the favour to put Holmes in open pasture, running the remaining 50 metres to score against the run of play.
With the scores now at 12-0, Australia really started to apply the heat to the Samoan side as they ran in another three tries in the first half.
The final 10 minutes of the half were highlighted by a double from five-eighth, Michael Morgan, who took advantage of some tired defenders late in the half to stretch their lead to 30 before the break.
As the players returned for the second hald, Samoa came out on the offensive as they tried to bash their way back into the match.
In the 51st minute, Holmes dampened the spirits of Samoa and recorded his third try of the match to complete his hat-trick.
Unfortunately for Samoa, three wasn’t enough for the prolific try scorer who ran in another two tries in the second half to become the first player in World Cup history to record five tries in a single match.
With six minutes left to play, Samoa's goal-line drop-out ended up in the hands of Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs big man, David Klemmer.
Klemmer took on the Samoan line before drawing and passing to Holmes who’s blistering speed and agility was too much, carving his way through a maze of Samoan defenders before crossing over the in-goal to complete a historic five-try haul.
Australia finished the match with eight tries and eight conversions to finish victors 46-0.
The loss means Samoa is sent home from the World Cup while Australia will prepare to play the winner of New Zealand and Fiji on Saturday.
James Coman | @JamesComan1
Rugby League World Cup 2017 Reporter