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By their own high standards it was a poor, sloppy performance by the Kangaroos, however that didn't stop them demolishing Italy to the tune of a 66-6 scoreline.
It took 7 minutes before the Green and Gold were able to get on the board, with Daly Cherry-Evans assisting the try for Valentine Holmes. Four minutes later, Australia scored again, with Taulagi getting over in the corner untouched. Cleary missed both conversions, meaning the score was 8-0 after thirteen.
Italy's defence was sound, turning Australia away on consecutive occasions, however they couldn't maintain that class on both sides of the ball, coughing it up and allowing James Tedesco to dummy his way over for an easy try in the ensuing set.
Australia were eventually able to force a dropout, and Italy gave an example of the dangers of short restarts, when Campbell Graham leapt through the air to catch the ball and continue to the tryline as if there were a red carpet set out for him.
On Australia's next trip to the attacking zone, Latrell Mitchell was given early ball and was simply too strong for the Italians, barging his way over them to extend the lead to 24. Another great play from Mitchell - a no look flick pass - allowed Taulagi to cross for his second right on half time.
It took 6 second half minutes for Australia to get the ball rolling again, with Tedesco making a line break and passing inside to Cherry-Evans, who did well to get an arm free and offload to Isaah Yeo in support, who went over for the try. Three minutes later, Liam Martin ran through a huge hole in the defensive line to go 20 metres for a try.
The moment of the match came in the 54th minute off the back of a successful short restart by the Italians. They were on the attack and halfback Radean Robinson put a grubber in behind Australia's defensive line for his backrower Ronny Palumbo, who won the race to the ball and grounded it with one hand.
Unfortunately the joy was short lived, Australia got a set restart on their next possession and Tino Faasuamaleaui set up Cameron Murray for an easy try close to the line. Campbell Graham, Jeremiah Nanai and Lindsay Collins all scored equally as simple tries in the final 10 minutes to give us the final score of 66-6.
Next week, Australia will face Lebanon in a do or die quarter final matchup, while it's curtains for Italy in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
Australia Men 66 - Italy Men 6
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens
Halftime Score: Australia Men 30 Italy Men 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Latrell Mitchell
2 points - James Tedesco
1 points - Daly Cherry-Evans
AUSTRALIA MEN (66)
Tries: Valentine Holmes, Murray Taulagi (2), James Tedesco, Campbell Graham (2), Latrell Mitchell, Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin, Cameron Murray, Jeremiah Nanai, Lindsay Collins
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Nathan Cleary (9/12)
ITALY MEN (6)
Tries: Ronny Palumbo
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Jack Campagnolo (1/1)