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Rugby League World Cup: what we learned from the first round of games

Ireland were impressive in their win over Italy; Lebanon rose to the challenge against France; and Scotland will be targeting their match against Samoa

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

It is usually difficult to draw any conclusions from the first round of games at any major tournament but, typically, the Rugby League World Cup is different. The lop-sided nature of the draw for a 14-team cup (which, thanks goodness, will be last of its kind as we finally get back to 16 teams for the first time since 2000) means that in the four-team groups, every side is only really targeting one match. Lebanon and France knew a quarter-final place was up for grabs when they met in Canberra on Sunday. Lebanon’s celebrations after their first win at a World Cup said everything about what that meant to them, while France are almost certainly condemned to a pointless campaign.

Ireland’s surgical dissection of Italy on a white-hot Sunday afternoon here in Cairns suggested that they should give Papua New Guinea a real test in Port Moresby next weekend. Australian journalists and fans I spoke with all seemed surprised by the Irish. The Italians played as if they were surprised too and the bookies certainly got it badly wrong – a few odds-setters must have had uncomfortable meetings on Monday morning. One look down the Ireland team revealed a whole clutch of top Super League talents, a huge amount of experience in the masterful Liam Finn, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook – terrific on debut and surely the first Millwall fan to score a try in a Rugby League World Cup – the returning Mickey McIlorum and Kyle “seen it all before” Amor.

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Rugby League World Cup: what we learned from the first round of games

Ireland were impressive in their win over Italy; Lebanon rose to the challenge against France; and Scotland will be targeting their match against Samoa

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

It is usually difficult to draw any conclusions from the first round of games at any major tournament but, typically, the Rugby League World Cup is different. The lop-sided nature of the draw for a 14-team cup (which, thanks goodness, will be last of its kind as we finally get back to 16 teams for the first time since 2000) means that in the four-team groups, every side is only really targeting one match. Lebanon and France knew a quarter-final place was up for grabs when they met in Canberra on Sunday. Lebanon’s celebrations after their first win at a World Cup said everything about what that meant to them, while France are almost certainly condemned to a pointless campaign.

Ireland’s surgical dissection of Italy on a white-hot Sunday afternoon here in Cairns suggested that they should give Papua New Guinea a real test in Port Moresby next weekend. Australian journalists and fans I spoke with all seemed surprised by the Irish. The Italians played as if they were surprised too and the bookies certainly got it badly wrong – a few odds-setters must have had uncomfortable meetings on Monday morning. One look down the Ireland team revealed a whole clutch of top Super League talents, a huge amount of experience in the masterful Liam Finn, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook – terrific on debut and surely the first Millwall fan to score a try in a Rugby League World Cup – the returning Mickey McIlorum and Kyle “seen it all before” Amor.

Continue reading...

About the Author

Comments are closed.

0

Rugby League World Cup: what we learned from the first round of games

Ireland were impressive in their win over Italy; Lebanon rose to the challenge against France; and Scotland will be targeting their match against Samoa

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

It is usually difficult to draw any conclusions from the first round of games at any major tournament but, typically, the Rugby League World Cup is different. The lop-sided nature of the draw for a 14-team cup (which, thanks goodness, will be last of its kind as we finally get back to 16 teams for the first time since 2000) means that in the four-team groups, every side is only really targeting one match. Lebanon and France knew a quarter-final place was up for grabs when they met in Canberra on Sunday. Lebanon’s celebrations after their first win at a World Cup said everything about what that meant to them, while France are almost certainly condemned to a pointless campaign.

Ireland’s surgical dissection of Italy on a white-hot Sunday afternoon here in Cairns suggested that they should give Papua New Guinea a real test in Port Moresby next weekend. Australian journalists and fans I spoke with all seemed surprised by the Irish. The Italians played as if they were surprised too and the bookies certainly got it badly wrong – a few odds-setters must have had uncomfortable meetings on Monday morning. One look down the Ireland team revealed a whole clutch of top Super League talents, a huge amount of experience in the masterful Liam Finn, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook – terrific on debut and surely the first Millwall fan to score a try in a Rugby League World Cup – the returning Mickey McIlorum and Kyle “seen it all before” Amor.

Continue reading...

About the Author

Comments are closed.