Australia defeated New Zealand 34-2 to win the 2013 Rugby League World Cup Saturday at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.
The Kangaroos showcased superb defense and got two tries from Billy Slater and Brett Morris as they crushed the defending champions in front of over 74,000.
Australia only gave up a try in their first game of the tournament, against England, and in the knockout rounds they were virtually untouchable, winning 62-0 over the USA, 62-0 over Fiji, and then 34-2 over New Zealand.
Fiji and England, who lost 20-18 to New Zealand in the semis, tied for 3rd. USA, France, Scotland, and Samoa were the losing quarterfinalists.
The USA did better than just about everyone expected them to by getting into the knockout stages of the World Cup in their very first appearance.
As we suggested would happen, the Tomahawks gave it everything they had, but were taken down by the heavily favored Australians in the quarterfinals. The lopsided 62-0 scoreline doesn’t truly reflect the real nature of the USA’s unwavering commitment, gritty determination and 100 percent effort against the Kangaroos.
They kept the #1 ranked Aussies in check through the first quarter of the game with their tenacity particularly around the ruck, but a glut of possession that forced the USA to make a ton of tackles and a deadly ten minute period leading up to halftime in which Australia cut loose running in four tries, pretty much signaled the end of the road for the guys in Red, White and Blue.
They did themselves and our country proud though and left absolutely nothing on the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham.
It’s no exaggeration to say the Tomahawks have been the talk of this Rugby League World Cup. Their outstanding performances in knocking off the Cook Islands and Wales, their stellar effort in a losing cause against Scotland and their final hurrah against a team loaded with All-Stars that many are tipping to win it all has won them a lot of admirers around the Rugby League world.
And we shouldn’t overlook their winning start to RLWC2013 when they upended the highly fancied France in that warmup game in Toulouse to get the ball rolling.
Looking back on their campaign there’s no doubt it was a success, both on and off the field. Including the match versus Les Chanticleers, the Tomahawks posted a 3-2 record in Europe and they managed to squeeze it into a tightly compressed schedule of less than one month.
A breakdown of their statistics will give you a better idea of the magnitude of their combined efforts. They scored 86 points for while allowing 138 against (the 62 leaked against Australia skews their differential; otherwise the score is 86-76). They crossed for a total of 17 tries in the five games and had 11 different players do the scoring.
Individually, there are a lot of good stories to tell. For example, captain Joseph Paulo scored two tries, and kicked seven conversions and two penalty goals. At five-eighth he was the team’s general. Paulo was one of America’s most consistent players on both offense and defense and was hands down the Tomahawks’ main playmaker.
Second-rower Clint Newton also had a memorable tournament and was one of the USA’s most productive work horses in the engine room. He also scored two tries, made 100 tackles and had 54 carries for 354 meters at an average of 6.6 meters per carry (that’s about 7.s yards a carry).
Other guys who made names for themselves include prop Mark Offerdahl with a try and 111 tackles, fullback Kristian Freed (2), right center Taylor Welch (1), plus live-wire halfback Craig Priestly (1).
And players who deserve honorable mentions for acquitting themselves well are former skipper and wing Matt Petersen (2), replacement hooker Tui Samoa (2) and loose forward Danny Howard. Howard topped the tackle count with 112 and that’s not bad when you consider a Frenchman was the top tackler with 152.
In short, everyone contributed.
Apart from their exploits on the field, the Tomahawk players also filled the role of ambassadors for the United States off the field and made positive impressions wherever they went from Widnes down to Bristol and across to Wales.
They left folks in the UK wanting to know more about Rugby League in America and that’s got to be a good thing.
And the icing on the cake is that the team’s efforts should be enough to propel the #12 USA into the Top 10 on the RLIF’s world rankings.
So, a job well done to the Tomahawks, they’ve put America on the map in Rugby League. The trick from here is to build on the solid platform they’ve laid through their outstanding efforts.