A first quarter onslaught from the Australian Kangaroos set up a convincing 54-12 win over the Scotland Bravehearts in the opening match of the Four Nations at KC Lightstream Stadium in Hull in front of a crowd 5,337 fans.
Five players were handed their debut jerseys by Coach Mal Meninga for this opening game of the Four Nations tournament, with players such as the Rabbitohs custodian and Kangaroos mainstay Greg Inglis being rested for this match.
Winger Blake Ferguson opened the scoring for Australia in the fifth minute of play when the Kangaroos swung the ball wide to the left to score, giving the Australians a four-nil lead.
Halfback Cooper Cronk then scored in the tenth minute in his 30th Test match following a clever left-foot kick from captain Cameron Smith out of dummy half. Five-eighth James Maloney converted from close range to the lead out to ten-nil.
Two minutes later Maloney scored his first try in Australian colours following a nice inside ball from Cronk to fullback Matt Moylan who tipped it on to Maloney to score under the posts. Maloney converted his own try to extend the Kangaroos’ lead to 16 points.
Cronk scored his second try after the Australian left-side attack carved a big hole in the Scottish defence, with Tyson Frizell putting Cronk away adjacent to the posts. Maloney’s conversion gave Australia a 22-0 lead after just 15 minutes.
Winger Josh Mansour would score the Kangaroos’ fifth try in the 25th minute, with Australia again going to the left to score out wide.
It would be Mansour again who would score, with Australia again going to the left, to score his second try and the Australians’ sixth, in the 35th minute of play.
Scotland registered their first points in the 38th minute when the Scots finally had the opportunity to put pressure on the Kangaroos in their end of the field. Five-eighth Danny Brough kicked back towards the posts for his halfback Ryan Brierley to score next to the posts. Brough converted to take the score line to 30-6 in favour of Australia at the half time break.
It would not take long for Australia to score in the second half, with centre Josh Dugan running 60 metres to score under the posts in the 43rd minute of play. Maloney converted to re-establish the 30 point advantage.
The Kangaroos had lost their way in the third quarter and the Bravehearts made the most of it with lock Ben Kavanagh scoring a soft try following a huge line break from Brough. Brough converted to take the score line to 36-12 with 20 minutes remaining.
Australia returned to the scoreboard in the 66th minute when Tyson Frizell powered his way over the line to the left of the posts. Maloney converted to take the score line to 42-12.
Three minutes later utility Michael Morgan scored after some short passing down the left hand side between fullback Matt Moylan and Maloney. Maloney converted to extend the lead to 36 points with ten minutes left on the clock.
The Australians broke the half century of points in the 79th minute when Jake Trbojevic scored his first try in Kangaroos colours following a break by Trent Merrin. Maloney converted from in front to finalise the score line at 54-12.
The Australians were dominant in the opening exchanges but the Scots put up a great fight through the middle 40 minutes of the match, only to see the floodgates open at the back end of the game.
Coach Meninga will be expecting much improved performances against England and New Zealand in the Australians’ remaining round matches of this Four Nations tournament.
The next Four Nations clash will see England; featuring Sam, George and Thomas Burgess; taking on New Zealand at 12:30am AEDST on Sunday morning.
Australia 54 (Cooper Cronk 2, Josh Mansour 2, Blake Ferguson, James Maloney, Josh Dugan, Tyson Frizell, Michael Morgan, Jake Trbojevic tries; James Maloney 7 goals)
Scotland 12 (Ryan Brierley, Ben Kavanagh tries; Danny Brough 2 goals)