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Vodafone Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson finishes off a Sonny Bill Williams break for his try in today's RLWC quarter-final against Scotland at Headingley. Photo: Photosport

Scotlands history-making campaign came to a predictable end as the Kiwis swept to a 40-4 win in todays Rugby League World Cup quarter-final at Headingley in Leeds.

There were passages in the game when the New Zealanders were simply sublime especially in the first half when they scored five tries most splendid efforts to lead 26-0.

It was very nearly six tries when Vodafone Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei spectacularly broke out of the Kiwis red zone after fielding a towering Danny Brough restart, running over the top of Peter Wallace and then weaving past some defenders and powering through others on a 70-metre surge. Sadly the run ended with an obstruction call just when it seemed The Beast might go all the way for one of the great tries.

Having dominated Scotland after weathering some early pressure, the Kiwis would have expected to go on with it in the second half but, as happened against Papua New Guinea last week, they tended to splutter, finishing with just three more tries and conceding their only try of the game.


The Bravehearts deserved credit for the way they stayed in the contest; they never flinched and were finally rewarded with a try to wing Alex Hurst, rapturously acclaimed by the crowd of 16,000-plus.

It followed an exceptional 40-20 from captain Brough, who brought all his renowned tricks to the game including his uncanny kick-offs. From the repeat set, Scotland aimed at its left edge to put together a well-constructed try.

While there were some flat patches the Kiwis were again affected by line-up disruptions which clearly impacted on their ability to sustain the level of performance they were seeking.

Of special concern was an injury to Sonny Bill Williams in just the second set of the match. He was caught awkwardly in a multiple tackle which left him on the ground for some time while he received attention for a neck complaint. Worst fears were allayed when he finally got to his feet and continued before being taken off as a precaution after half an hour, still more than enough time for him to influence the game.

He was right in the frame as the Kiwis scored what they thought was their first try, Issac Luke claiming a touchdown only for the video referee to find fullback Kevin Locke had knocked on contesting a kick in the lead-up.

Then minutes later SBW was right in the mix, the Kiwis bursting clear from deep through another searing bust by the ever-dangerous Luke. Locke supported him and linked with Williams on his outside, the big man shunting aside the last defender and off-loading to his left for Bryson Goodwin to score the first of his two tries.

After 30-minute mark, Williams stepped through and broke clear after a strong Jared Waerea-Hargreaves carry before shifting to Shaun Johnson for the halfback to score his third try of the tournament. That was the end of SBWs work for the night as coach Stephen Kearney removed him from the contest as a precaution.

Vatuvei wasnt left on the field for whole game either, taken off in the last quarter rather than risk damage to what was said to bea tight groin.

He showed no ill-effects from the knee injury which had placed him in doubt for the game. Indeed he might well have had his second hat-trick of the tournament.

After his first half effort was rubbed out he was also denied in the second half when the video referee decreed contentiously it had to be said that Goodwin had stepped on the touchline before transferring to the big man.

Back the Kiwis came minutes later down the same channel and this time Vatuvei had his 17th Test try and his 20th in 22 top-level games this season. Hed made 171 metres from 12 runs plus seven tackle breaks, two off loads and two line breaks.

Over on the right wing twinkle toes - and man of the match - Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was having the time of his life.

Slick hands had the ball singing to the right in the 21st minute for RTS to bag his first try, even though the final pass went to ground before he collected it.

His second was truly dazzling. Fielding a Kane Linnett kick five metres out from his own line, he danced through and then sped 90 metres down the touchline for a wonderful touchdown.

The ball was in his hands much of the game as he finished with 281 metres from 18 carries, a stunning 17 tackle breaks and three line breaks.

There was also real quality in the build-up to big Frank Pritchards try, several sets of hands involved before he rumbled over.

Goodwin finished off the scoring by snaffling a well-directed Kieran Foran bomb for his second try.

Of some concern was the penalty count which ran 7-0 against the Kiwis at one stage before finishing up 8-4 in Scotlands favour. Their error rate was again higher than they would want at 11 leading to a modest completion rate of 23 from 34.

The power of the Kiwis game could be seen in the total running metres of 1536 compared to Scotlands 892 as well as a 10-2 line breaks advantage. With eight more tries they have 34 for the tournament and have scored a total of 186 points while conceding 38.

Now the Kiwis await the outcome of the England-France quarter-final in Wigan tomorrow morning (9.00 kick-off NZT). Unless theres a monumental upset in that match, New Zealand will face England in the first of the semi-finals at the Wembley doubleheader The Big Hit next Sunday morning (NZT).


Match details:

At Headingley, Leeds

New Zealand Kiwis 40 (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2, Bryson Goodiwn 2, Jesse Bromwich, Frank Pritchard, Shaun Johnson, Manu Vatuvei tries; Shaun Johnson 4 conversions).

Scotland Bravehearts 4 (Alex Hurst try).

Halftime: 26-0 Kiwis.

Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia).

Crowd: 16,207.

Kiwis: Kevin Locke; Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Dean Whare, Bryson Goodwin, Manu Vatuvei; Kieran Foran (c), Shaun Johnson; Ben Matulino, Issac Luke, Jesse Bromwich; Frank Pritchard, Sonny Bill Williams; Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: Elijah Taylor, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sam Moa.

Scotland: Matt Russell; David Scott, Ben Hellewell, Kane Linnett, Alex Hurst; Danny Brough, Peter Wallace; Adam Walker, Ian Henderson, Luke Douglas; Danny Addy, Brett Phillips; Ben Kavanagh. Interchange: Andrew Henderson, Oliver Wilkes, Alex Szostak, Sam Barlow.
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