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Australia beats NZ; France holds off Scotland

Australia beats NZ; France holds off Scotland

Israel Folau crossed twice and Johnathan Thurston had a hand in three tries as Australia opened its rugby league World Cup campaign with a 30-6 win over New Zealand on Sunday.
Thurston, a doubtful starter for the match after his uncle died in an alleged assault earlier on the weekend, contributed to three of Australia's five tries and landed four goals.
"Tonight gave me a chance to let out some of the emotion," Thurston wrote in a statement read out by Kangaroos coach Ricky Stuart after the match.
Thurston will take time off this week to be with his family and is not certain to start against England in Melbourne next weekend.
"He is a tough kid and he handled it very well," Stuart said of his halfback. "We will just take each day as it comes with Johnathan."
Stuart said Australia started with the sort of performance that would set the tone for the tournament.
"We wanted to show the opposition we are here to be serious and on form," he said. "We are always vulnerable because we always carry the favorite's tag and there is always extra pressure.
"We are not weak enough to let that become an obstacle for us."
New Zealand's only highlight was a strong try by Sika Manu in the 27th minute which kept the score to 14-6 at half time.
Inglis and Joel Monaghan scored from sweeping backline moves in the first half and Australia increased its lead to 18 points on the hour with tries after the break by Folau and Billy Slater.
Folau scored in the last minute to round off the scoring.
Former Canberra Raiders player Jerome Guisset returned to Canberra and scored two tries to lead France to a 36-18 win over Scotland earlier Sunday.
The French, featuring 12 players from Super League club Catalans, were never behind after fullback Jared Taylor finished off an attacking raid in the 16th minute.
But Scotland played above pre-match expectations. The Scots equalized in the 19th minute when Jon Steel went over in the corner and halfback Danny Brough converted from the left touch line.
France then scored twice again before the break when Guisset burrowed over amid four tacklers in the 28th _ soon after Scotland had a try disallowed _ and John Wilson leaped above the defense to regather a Thomas Bosc crossfield bomb in the 33rd.
The Scots reduced the margin to 18-12 six minutes after the break when Oliver Wilkes ran onto a flat ball from Brough and crossed beside the posts.
After exchanging tries to make it 24-18, second-rower Guisset stripped the ball from Scotland fullback Michael Robertson under the posts for the clincher.
Christophe Moly finished off an 80-meter counterattack in the last minute and Bosc converted _ his sixth goal from as many attempts _ to extend the margin to 18 points.
Guisset said the win put France on track for a semifinal berth from Group 2.
"It's good mate, I haven't scored for about two years," Guisset said in a post-match TV interview. "The guys stuck to the plans. We got a bit down early in the second half, but we came back strongly.
"If we complete our sets and roll up our sleeves, we can be a good team."
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Scorers:
Australia 30 (Israel Folau 2, Greg Inglis, Joel Monaghan, Billy Slater tries; Johnathan Thurston 4 C Smith goals), New Zealand 6 (Sika Manu try; Steve Matai goal). Halftime: 14-6.
France 36 (Jerome Guisset 2, Jared Taylor, John Wilson, Sebastien Raguin, Christophe Moly; Thomas Bosc 6 goals), Scotland 18 (Dean Colton, Jon Steel, Oliver Wilkes tries; Danny Brough 3 goals). Halftime: 18-6.


Updated : 2021-04-13 10:42 GMT+08:00