Mal Meninga defends Kangaroos after tough World Cup criticism: 'Poor'

Mal Meninga (pictured left) during an interview and (pictured right) Josh Addo-Carr celebrates a try.
Mal Meninga (pictured left) defends the Kangaroos after some criticism from defeating Lebanon at the Rugby League World Cup. (Getty Images)

NRL greats Greg Alexander and Corey Parker were critical of the Kangaroos after a 'poor' showing, despite advancing to a third-straight Rugby League World Cup semi-final.

Josh Addo-Carr was at his scintillating best after scoring five tries as the Kangaroos downed Lebanon 48-4.

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Lebanon proved to be little more than a road bump for the Kangaroos who set up a semi-final with the winner of the quarter-final between New Zealand and Fiji next week at Elland Road, Leeds.

Australia expect to be back to full complement after prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard and hooker Ben Hunt sat out Friday's game at Huddersfield in front of 8,206 fans.

However, while the score was convincing for Australia, Mal Meninga's men gave away 14 errors.

And Maroons great Parker claimed Meninga might not be thrilled with the way the team performed, which saw a few tries go begging.

"I think this is their worst performance of the tournament so far, 14 errors, the cohesion, some of the ball movement, some of the basic errors, just wasn't quite up to standard from the Australians," Parker said on Fox Sports after the game.

"Particularly when it looks like they will go on to play New Zealand next week.

"Not too sure if Mal Meninga will be quite impressed with that, particularly the second half... at difference stages Australia were way off."

And Penrith legend Alexander agreed when he claimed it was: "As poorly as they have played."

"There is a lot to work on, but the improvement is there. This is a great side."

Josh Addo-Carr (pictured) smiles during an interview.
Josh Addo-Carr (pictured) was man-of-the-match against Lebanon. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for RLWC)

Captain James Tedesco agreed the second half was not their best.

"It was a good win, a bit scrappy that second half. But we will take it," he said post-match.

"We wanted to get through this game and play some good footy and I thought we did that in the first half.

"Obviously a bit scrappy in the second-half, which is a bit disappointing."

When asked about Nathan Cleary's performance, Meninga admitted the ruck speed may have impacted his game.

"Oh well, it was a pretty slow play the ball. So they were putting pressure on him and it's just the way it is over here."

Mal Meninga praises Kangaroos' effort

Despite some criticism, Mal Meninga was happy the team got through the tough clash injury-free.

"Was really happy getting through the game. It was a bit clunky with the ball tonight.

"The ruck speed wasn't really good..but they are getting used to that sort of stuff and I am happy with the effort."

Michael Cheika's side has been one of the competition's most daring and their willingness to play with risk endeared them to local fans.

Australia's Josh Addo-Carr (pictured left) celebrates with his teammates.
Australia's Josh Addo-Carr (pictured left) celebrates scoring a try against Lebanon. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

But when they needed to play with abandon to disrupt the Kangaroos, the Lebanese put their tricks away and Australia were only too willing to take advantage.

Lebanon's qualification has been assured for the 2025 tournament in France and they made sure they didn't go home empty handed with Josh Mansour scoring in the 51st minute.

Addo-Carr was the star of the show, however, grabbing a hat-trick after less than 20 minutes.

The pick of them came when Cameron Munster pulled off a ball steal on Lebanon fullback Jacob Kiraz before passing on for Addo-Carr to finish in the corner.

Nathan Cleary (pictured) passes the ball.
Nathan Cleary (pictured) is set to feature against New Zealand or Fiji in the semi-final of the World Cup. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Latrell Mitchell was next to barge over the line and before half-time interchange forward Cameron Murray had scored two crash-over tries to put the Aussies 30-0 up.

Tedesco was taken off, Munster shifted to fullback and Daly Cherry-Evans played at five-eighth alongside Nathan Cleary.

Addo-Carr added a fourth soon after the break but the biggest cheer of the night came when Lebanon scored through Mansour, the South Sydney winger diving on a Mitchell Moses grubberkick to the in-goal.

Mansour played for Australia in this same fixture at this tournament five years ago and it was to be the only thing the Lebanese had to cheer about in what was a fairly lopsided contest.

Normal service was resumed not long after with Addo-Carr scoring his fifth and Liam Martin crashing over to wrap up a dominant Australian victory.

with AAP

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