New Zealand 40 Scotland 4
Back to his feet: Sonny Bill Williams bounced back from an early injury scare to influence the match with some strong runs through the heart of Scotland's defence. Photo: Getty Images
Scotland deliberately maximised the embarrassment of rugby league officials by announcing as the most important game in their history kicked off that their funding had been withdrawn.
New Zealand cruised through the World Cup quarter-final at Headingley as expected, winning 40-4 to set up a semi-final appearance with England with centre Bryson Goodwin and winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck each posting try braces.
Their only real complication was an ugly, if accidental, incident which left superstar Sonny Bill Williams with a jarred neck.
Making a point: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves leads New Zealand's Haka before the Rugby League World Cup Quarter-final against Scotland. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Goodwin(2), Bromwich, Tuivasa-Sheck(2), Pritchard, Johnson, Vatuvei||Tries||8||Tries||1||Players||Hurst|
|Players||Johnson 4/8 (50%)||Conversions||4||Conversions||0||Players||Brough 0/1 (0%)|
|Players||Penalty goals||0||Penalty goals||0||Players|
|Players||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
But officials of the Rugby Football League, who until now had been basking in the glory of a successful and profitable tournament, copped a PR barrage as the teams ran out when Scotland Rugby League posted on Facebook: ‘‘The RFL have withdrawn their funding from across the Celtic nations ...
‘‘There are no staff working on or on behalf of Scotland Rugby League until the Rugby League International Federation make a decision on any future funding for Scotland.’’
Bravehearts coach Steve McCormack refused to be drawn on the issue after the quarter-final and SRL chairman Keith Hogg did not immediately return Fairfax Media’s phone calls.
New Zealand thump Scotland in Leeds
New Zealand players perform the Haka before the Rugby League World Cup Quarter Final match between against Scotland at Headingley Stadium, Leeds. Photo: Getty Images
But it is understood the SRL had received inquiries about the issue throughout the week before the match and had decided to maximise the impact of the news by announcing it when the eyes of the rugby league world were on its team.
The Rugby Football League, which oversees the game in Britain, is funded by Sport England - an anomaly when it comes to passing on that funding to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The RFL’s funding has been cut by £10 million ($17 million) over the next four years.
‘‘I know they haven’t got a lot of money - I didn’t know they’ve now got none,’’ said former NSW five-eighth Peter Wallace, who has represented Scotland for the first time in this tournament.
‘‘Hopefully how we’ve gone in this tournament ... maybe the Scotland government can get behind rugby league in Scotland.’’
For New Zealand, who led 26-0 at half-time, minor injuries and some lack of concentration were the only negatives coach Stephen Kearney could point to.
Williams packed into the next scrum following his mishap at prop before getting a very early shower, while winger Manu Vatuvei came off with a groin injury and captain Simon Mannering was also given a long rest.
Tuivasa-Sheck was a popular man of the match after tries in the 20th and 50th minutes. ‘‘He’s a young man of 20 years old yet some of the stuff he does makes it look like he’s been around for 10 years,’’ Kearney said. ‘‘Yet it’s instinctive.’’
The return of Kevin Locke as first-choice fullback was deemed a success and Kearney said the decision between the Warriors custodian and Josh Hoffman for the Wembley semi-final would be difficult.
‘‘After half-time, we could have been a bit more ruthless,’’ Kearney said. ‘‘Eighty per cent of the side is pretty much fixed or set’’.
NEW ZEALAND 40 (Bryson Goodwin 2, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2, Jesse Bromwich, Frank Pritchard, Shaun Johnson, Manu Vatuvei tries; Johnson 4 goals) beat SCOTLAND 4 (Alex Hirst try) at Headingley. Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia). Crowd: 16,207.