2021 Rugby League World Cup Reaction



The opening games of the highly anticipated 2021 Rugby League World Cup did not disappoint.

A staggering crowd of over 43,000 at St James’s Park watched Shaun Wane’s England team stun a Samoa side that had seven players who featured in the NRL Grand Final just three weeks ago.

In the second game of the day, Fiji faced the reigning champions Australia at Headingley. After an early scare thanks to a try in the opening minutes from Fiji’s Semi Valemei Australia came back to cruise to a seven-try victory to start their World Cup campaign.

Following the disappointment of technical issues in the opening ceremony, what didn’t disappoint was the unbelievable action on the field. It did however take until the 23rd minute until the opening try of the tournament through Jack Welsby after a slow-burning opening 20 minutes, but the second try came just moments later and what a try it was.

Jack Welsby sent Dom Young away down the line with a cut-out pass and the winger who plays his club Rugby for Newcastle Knights in the NRL got the record crowd for a World Cup opener in the northern hemisphere on their feet showing his speed and agility to bypass the fullback to go underneath the posts for arguably the try of the game.

One quickly became two for the winger who linked up with Welsby once again for a superb diving finish in the corner as England extended their lead. On a very poor afternoon for Samoa, they did have a moment of joy with Stephen Critchton intercepting a Welsby pass to go the length of the field to get his sides only try off the game.

What happened in the second half stunned almost everyone inside St James’s Park, especially those who believed Samoa were favourites to come away with the victory heading into the game.

A thoroughly dominant second-half showing saw the home nation run riot scoring seven tries without reply. Kallum Watkins received the short ball to start the scoring. Tries from Herbie Farnworth, Tommy Makinson, George Williams, Tom Burgess and a brace from Elliott Whitehead capped off an unbelievable 60-6 victory.

A statement win for Wane’s side who now have England fans wondering just how far this team can go. France at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday is the next game before they travel to Sheffield for the final group game against Greece.

To cap off a superb opening day Australia who had not played an International game for three years, they were given an early scare against Fiji before they showed the gulf in class between the two sides to cruise to a comfortable victory thanks to an impressive performance from Harry Grant.

The seven-try performance from Mal Meninga’s side did however see the Australia team concede two tries for the first time since they beat England 28-20 in the opening game of the 2013 World Cup.

What we learnt from the opening day

As expected before the tournament Australia are the side to beat but with the additions of Victor Radley in particular – who picked up the player of the match award, this England team have every capability of reaching the final at Old Trafford on November 19th. For now, however, they have to focus on beating France and Greece to ensure they top the group.

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