Australia has defeated Samoa to win the 2022 Rugby League World Cup, earning a comfortable 30-10 victory over their Pacific rivals to once bring home the trophy.
The Kangaroos continued their dominance over the event thanks to three first-half tries - however Samoa were left to rue what might have been after two controversial refereeing decisions.
Samoa’s hooker Chanel Harris-Tavita went for a 40-20 kick less than five minutes into the game, only for it to be tracked down and saved from going out of bounds by James Tedesco.
Replays though, showed Tedesco clearly had his foot on the sideline when he made the save - something which should have been picked up and allowed Samoa to continue with their attack.
Instead, the touch judge missed the call and Samoa's early momentum quickly evaporated.
Samoa coach Matt Parish was further infuriated in the second half, when Harris-Tavita was knocked out by Kangaroos back rower Angus Crighton, who had raised his elbows to protect himself from an incoming tackle.
Intentional or not, Angus Crichton has to sit for 10 after this high elbow.
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Crighton was sin-binned for his indiscretion, however commentators felt he had been extremely fortunate not to have been sent off entirely.
After the game, Parish was fuming that Crighton was back on the field after just 10 minutes, while the loss of Harris-Tavita was a telling blow for Samoa.
“Five minutes into the second half our hooker gets elbowed in the head and gets carted off, then the referee makes a weak decision and puts him in the bin, dumbfounded,” Parish said.
“An elbow to the head and the hooker gets knocked out and taken out of the game.”
Parish's frustrations were brushed off by Kangaroos counterpart Mal Meninga after the game.
“My view is that he should have stayed on the field, that’s just silly," he said.
Harris-Tavita said his last memory was Samoa's pre-game Siva Tau.
"I didn't even know we were playing in a final," he told AAP. "They said we beat England last week and I couldn't remember that."
Mal Meninga backs Kangaroos to kick on after World Cup victory
Crichton sought out Harris-Tavita after the game to apologise and he will be hopeful that any suspension doesn't extend into the early part of the NRL season.
"It was a reaction, I didn't know he was coming," Crichton said.
"There was no malice in it at all. I apologised to him after the game and he knows that I didn't try to injure him.
"I'm a good person who plays the game the way it is meant to be played."
Meninga believes that under captain James Tedesco, who he praised effusively for his leadership in Saturday's 30-10 win at Old Trafford, the class of '22 will prove terrific guardians of Australia's ever more impressive roll of honour in the global game.
"We go back to the early '70s when you're talking about a 90 per cent winning record (over the last half-century)," said Meninga, when asked about protecting the Kangaroos' reputation as one of the world's great sports teams.
"It's been a dominant time for an Australian team, and I think we accept that really well as a group of players in the green and gold.
"The expectation is we win tournaments - so it's not a burden to us, we carry that with great humility and respect.
"We understand what wearing the green and gold means. We understand that everyone doesn't want to see us win except for the most ardent Australian supporters - but we accept that and we get on with business."
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