Winger Josh Addo-Carr scored five tries as Australia breezed into last four of the World Cup with a ruthless 48-4 destruction of Lebanon in the first quarter-final at Huddersfield.
Addo-Carr, dubbed the fastest rugby league man on the planet, scored a hat-trick inside the first quarter and added two more in the second half to take his tally to 11 in just three matches, taking over from England’s Dom Young as the tournament’s top tryscorer in the process.
Young might narrow the gap when England take on Papua New Guinea on Saturday afternoon but Addo-Carr has in his sights the tournament record of 12 tries set by his team-mate Valentine Holmes in 2017.
The reward for the holders and firm favourites is a place in the first semi-final at Elland Road next Friday against New Zealand or Fiji, who meet in Hull on Saturday night.
Lebanon were never in the game as the gulf in class showed and coach Michael Cheika will now turn his undivided attention to the other code and Argentina’s autumn international against Eddie Jones’ England at Twickenham on Sunday.
Addo-Carr went into the game on six tries, two behind Young, but became the tournament’s leading scorer inside the first 18 minutes as the Kangaroos made a blistering start.
He opened the scoring in the fifth minute and, after finishing off a break by captain James Tedesco, was gifted his hat-trick on 18 minutes when stand-off Cameron Munster stole the ball from Lebanon full-back Jacob Kiraz with the line open.
Australia clearly took a shine to the Cedars’ right edge and Addo-Carr’s centre Latrell Mitchell ignored his winger to score the next try himself with a deadly combination of pace and power after scrum-half Nathan Cleary opted to run the ball on the last tackle.
Fortunately for Lebanon, the tries were scored out wide and Cleary was able to land just one conversion from his first four attempts.
But substitute back rower Cameron Murray made the most of some lightweight defence to go over near the posts twice in five minutes and Cleary upped his success rate to take the score to 34-0 by half-time.
A fumble by Josh Mansour gifted a fourth try to his opposite number early in the second half and Cleary’s fourth conversion took the Kangaroos past their 34-0 score from the only previous meeting between the two sides in the 2017 World Cup.
Australia coach Mal Meninga withdrew Tedesco at half-time as a precaution after he went into the game with a knee niggle and Munster’s deficiencies as a full-back were illustrated when he failed to deal with Moses’ grubber kick which gifted a consolation try to Mansour on 51 minutes.
Munster quickly made amends with a kick that enabled Addo-Carr to claim his fifth try following a break by hooker Harry Grant and second rower Liam Martin took the short route for Australia’s ninth try, barging over from 10 metres out.
Lebanon finished a well-beaten side but comforted by the knowledge that their quarter-final appearance has at least ensured their automatic qualification for the next World Cup in France in 2025.