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Rugby World Cup moments: Australia demolish Namibia

If you want to make a statement as the host nation at the World Cup, then winning a match by a record margin is a good way to go about it.

That's exactly what Australia did as they romped past Namibia 142-0 in Pool A, their third of four victories as they topped the group.

The Wallabies would, of course, lose the final in extra time to England courtesy of Jonny Wilkinson's drop-goal and while the Red Rose were by far the best team at the 2003 edition of the showpiece, the hosts were arguably the most impressive.

They beat Argentina (24-8) and Ireland (17-16) before easing past Scotland 33-16 in the quarter-finals and then beating New Zealand 22-10 in the last four.

Eddie Jones' side also walloped two minnows, outclassing Romania 90-8 before smashing Namibia by that record-winning margin in Adelaide.

It was a magnificent performance but they could not match the Kiwis', who still hold the record for the most points scored by a team in a match by beating Japan 145-17 in 1995.

WhatRugby Union World Cup
WhenFriday 8th September - Saturday 28th October 2023
How to watchITV
OddsNew Zealand 13/5, France 11/4, South Africa 9/2, Ireland 5/1, Australia 10/1

Bench-warmers play with a point to prove

In truth, it was a largely second-string XV named by Jones, with captain George Gregan and mercurial fly-half Stephen Larkham both left out of the matchday 22.

A look at the run-on side shows that just three backs and four forwards who started that game would be part of the XV that started against England but the relative unfamiliarity did not prove to be an issue for the then-reigning champions.

Chris Latham ran in the first try after two minutes and the Wallabies went in 69-0 up at the break.

Matt Giteau completed his hat-trick on 53 minutes to edge the hosts past three figures and the tries continued to flow as the hosts' mix-and-match yet clinical back-line produced a masterclass.

Super stats!

There are some incredible statistics to come from the game. Australia ran in 22 tries, while Latham ran in five tries, scoring a hat-trick within 25 minutes to equal Kiwi Craig Green's then-record for the fastest hat-trick. 

That has since been surpassed by South Africa's Cobus Reinach's three-peat against Canada in 2019 but he remains the first and only player from his country to score more than four tries.

His performance somewhat overshadowed the hat-tricks Lote Tuqiri and Matt Giteau scored, while replacement centre Morgan Turinui grabbed a brace.

Matt Rogers also crossed twice and added 16 conversions to finish with a magnificent 42 points and continued to impress, this time switching to the wing to accommodate Latham but returning to the 15 shirt for the remainder of the tournament.

It was also a key day for Stirling Mortlock, who shone in the outside centre channel, crossing for a try before being withdrawn after 50 minutes. He would eventually supersede the iconic Matt Burke in the number 13 shirt, famously scoring his team's only try against the All Blacks by intercepting Carlos Spencer's pass before sprinting in 75 metres to touch down under the posts.

It was a magnificent team performance in a tournament where the points were wracked up. The Kiwis beat Tonga 91-7 in Pool D, while Josh Lewsey matched Latham by scoring five tries in England's 111-12 win over Uruguay in Pool C.

New Zealand still hold the record for most points scored in a match by beating Japan 145-17 in 1995, a fixture in which fly-half Simon Culhane scored a try and slotted 20 of 21 conversions. His 45-point haul, three more than Rodgers, remains a world record in a Test match.

Wonderful Wallabies miss out to Wilkinson

England beating both New Zealand and Australia away before the World Cup in 2003 meant Clive Woodward's side were rightly the favourites heading into the tournament.

The Red Rose's superior forwards meant they always looked to have an edge but the way the Wallabies moved the ball with precision and skill made them the tournament's entertainers.

Jones also managed to mould a pack capable of frustrating, if not always testing, its opponents at scrum time. They sometimes rode their luck, particularly in the final before Wilkinson slotted the winning drop goal in extra time.

In all, Australia scored a tournament-high 345 points, and while it may not have been their standout showing, their 142-0 display against Namibia was a delight to observe.

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