Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
England 30 Pacific Islands 24
England kept up their unbeaten run in the Student Rugby League World Cup to book a place in next week's final stages of the competition being held in Australia.
The scoreline slightly flattered the Islanders as England played with one eye firmly on the next stage.
But the sunshine men from the Pacific did pull back from 22-6 down at one stage and that kept up the excitement factor right to the end.
There was a sombre start to the game, being played at Brisbane's Griffith University Nathan complex, when a minute's silence was held to remember the victims of the bombings in London.
England did not have all their big guns in the starting line-up but even so it only took Scott Houston 10 minutes to power his way over the Islanders line for the opening try.
John Nicholls added the conversion and it took just six minutes more before Alex Benson forced his way in for an unconverted try to put England 10-0 up.
The England side was playing in fits and starts, sometimes showing nice touches, and at other times forcing the ball and losing possession without any logical reason.
On a hot afternoon the initial conditions appeared to favour the Pacific Islanders but as the proceedings continued and the skies clouded conditions appeared to swing the other way a little.
England coped well with the robust approach of the Islanders and produced some fine touches of their own.
One came in the 23rd minute when Kevin Till made one of his scoots before finding full-back Alex Clemie in support to score. Nicholls again landed the conversion to put England 16-0 in the lead.
Undeterred the Islanders pressed on and with 28 minutes gone their man of the match Josh Stowers found a way through the English defence for a try which Sione Fukofuka converted.
Then as half-time loomed Clemie and Till produced another piece of magic. Clemie roared some 40m out of defence and when he was halted it was Till's turn to be in support and he went about as far again to touch down.
On from the bench Martin Ainscough added the conversion and England turned round with a 22-6 lead.
Within three minutes of the restart England were on the march again. Centre Ben Cramant hit the gas and then instead of trying to score himself, shipped the ball out to Tom Tsang who cantered in at the corner with Ainscough converting.
Roman Filipine showed the Islanders were far from finished when his try, converted by the reliable boot of Sione Fukofuka, took the score to 28-12.
In England's next raid Benson was help up over the line before the Islanders were penalised allowing Ainscough to add a couple of more points to the England tally.
The impressive Stowers then drove England back with the first 40/20 in the group and this kept the Islanders on the move.
And when Cramant heisted over a kick Bruno Schwartz reacted the quickest and scooped up the ball to touch down for an unconverted try
Two more unconverted touchdowns in the last four minutes gave the scoreline a slightly closer look than perhaps it warranted, but try telling that to Sam Vauvalaau and hooker Luke Srama.
England 5 Alex Clemie 7 Simon Edwards 11 Matt Mullholland 6 Ben Cramant 3 Tom Tsang 12 John Nicholls 18 Kevin Till 1 Andrew Ali 9 Richard Hulme 2 Alex Benson 16 Al Robinson 8 Scott Houston 20 Andy Walker Subs (all used) 19 Chris Todd 15 Ryan Robinson 21 Martin Ainscough 13 David Norcross 14 Wayne Parillon 10 Stu Mc Reynolds
Tries:Houston (10); Benson (16); Clemie (23); Till (39); Tsang (43). Goals: Nicholls 2, Ainscough 3
Pacific Islands: 20 Junior Alesana 2 Bruno Schwarz 3 John Reece 4 Sam Vauvalaau 5 Phillip Breslin 6 Sione Fukofuka 7 Josh Stowers 8 David Tronc 9 Luke Srama 10 Peter Pulou 15 Ramon Filipine 12 Liu Faamate 13 Kelli Fukofuka Subs (all used) 14 Helmy Salvanavong 16 Reggie Peranara 18 Bobby Makau 19 Nic Williams
Tries: Stowers (28), Filipine (49), Schwartz (75) Srama (79). Goals: Sione Fukofuka 2
Men of the Match: England: Alex Benson - the powerhouse forward just kept on working on both attack and defence, keeping a cool head on a very warm day. Pacific Islanders - Josh Stowers. Gave the Islanders their main impetus on a day when determination was needed and never quit the battle.
Gamebreaker: Till's 39th minute link-up with Clemie to produce a try which seemed to be one try too many for the Islanders to pull back.
Referee: Raima Koti (New Zealand). Scoring sequence: 6-0; 10-0; 16-0; 16-6; 22-6; 28-6; 28-12; 30-12; 30-16; 30-20;30-24.
IRELAND'S dream of a place in the final stages of the Students Rugby League World Cup were dashed by a mixture of French skill and Irish errors under a hot Australian winter sun.
In the build-up to the match the Irish were working out how many points they needed to score to see them through to the knock out stages of the main competition.
But a mixture of French skill and their own mistakes saw them with little but defeat to take away from Brisbane's Griffith University Nathan complex. In the end the Irish lost prop Liam Julian with a shoulder injury, had Martin Cormack sent off for tripping and man of the match Luke Garnett ended the match in the sin-bin for lying on.
At the request of the Irish team there was a minute's silence before the game memory of the victims of the London bombings.
But once the match got under way the French seemed almost able to score at will.
Guillaume Reffle opened their account in the third minute with an unconverted try followed by two penalties from Dominique Vidal.
Robin Villa added another try on 13 minutes after livewire halfback Gregory Tiquet had made the initial break and Vidal's conversion made it 14-0.
Cormack was then given the red card for tripping by New South Wales referee Matthew Hawkins and almost at once Nicholas Bouillet was over for a try converted by Robin Villa.
That was on 19 minutes and by half time Bruno Ormeno had bagged a brace of tries and fullback Cedric Olieu had also picked up a couple.
And things did not get any better for France's Celtic cousins.
It took the pacey Olieu just two minutes of the second half to complete his hat-trick with a sensational try. He took a bomb deep in his own half, bounced through a posse of midfield defenders and then raced the remainder of the field to touchdown. Robin Villa bagged the extra two points to see 50 points come up for his country.
And the tries continued to come. Bouillet went in for his second try and
Christophe Calegari joined him on the scoresheet. Both were converted by Robin Villa and the Irish were running themselves to a standstill just to try and stem the blue tide which was engulfing them.
There was a fleeting spot of encouragement for the Irish when full-back Paul O'Connor found his way over the line for a try converted by Shaw but that was scant consolation.
Before the end Thomas Valette, Sebastien Amigas and Tiquet had all rubbed further salt in the Irish wounds. Fortunately for the Irish only Tiquet's try, his second, was converted, this time by Vidal.
If there is any consolation for the last score it did go to the men in green with Danny Shaw taking advantage of a rare French defensive mix up on their own line to score and then add the conversion.
Teams: France: 1 Cedric Olieu 5 Robin Villa 21 Matthieu Almarcha 15 Bruno Ormeno 3 Christophe Calegari 17 Dominique Vidal 7 Gregory Tiquet 8 Sebastien Amigas 19 Sylvain Teixido 16 Marc Osmont 11 Thomas Valette 20 Romaric Bemba 13 Guillaume Reffle Subs (all used) 10 Nicolas Bouillet 9 Romain Dintilhac 6 Sebastien Hascoet 16 Jonathan Laskowski 4 Simon Latournerie 18 Bruno Pezet
Tries: Reffle (3), R.Villa (13),Bouillet (19,48), Ormeno (20, 24), Olieu(28, 36, 42), Calegari (56), Valette (63), Vidal (67), Amigas (70), Tiquet (76) Goals: Vidal 7; Robin Villa 6
Ireland: 1 Paul O'Connor 21 David Heathwood 19 Danny Shaw 4 James Gross 5 Ste Smith 6 Gareth Simpson 16 Chris Harwood 17 David Bulmer 9 Phil Wood 13 Liam Julian 11 Luke Garnett 12 Paul Lane 7 James Giblin Subs (all used) 14 Shaun Quinn 15 John Clarke 8 Martin Cormack 20 Dave Hudson 18 Adam Walsh 3 Keith Armstrong.
Tries: Armstrong (39), O?Connor (52), Shaw (79). Goals: Shaw 3.
Man of the match.
France - Cedric Olieu. The full-back scored three tries, defended well, and looked poised and polished all afternoon. Ireland - Luke Garnett. Garnett, despite his sin-binning, worked his socks off both in attack and defence trying to keep the side together in the face of tremendous difficulties.
Gamebreaker: Martin Cormack's sending off midway through the first half left the Irish with a handicap too big to overcome.
Sent off: Martin Cormack (Ireland) tripping. Sin-binned: Luke Garnett (Ireland) Holding down.
Score sequence: 6-0; 8-0; 14-0; 20-0; 26-0; 32-0; 38-0; 44-0; 44-6; 50-6; 56-6; 56-12;62-12; 68-12; 72-12; 76-12; 82-12; 82-18. HT 44-6. Referee: Martin Hawkins (New South Wales)