Trio of favourites show Rugby League World Cup promise
England's Brett Ferres is tackled during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup group A match with Australia at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales on October 26, 2013
Defending champions New Zealand (48-0) and the English (42-0) both registered eight-try romps to nil over France and Ireland respectively.
Fiji actually scored the first points of their game against Australia courtesy of a Alipate Noilea penalty, but that was it as the Kangaroos, bidding for a 10th World Cup title, turned the screw for a 34-2 win.
So three victories for the big three, with 124 points for and just a solitary penalty against.
The results mean the Kiwis and the Kangaroos have already qualified for the quarter-finals, with England still not quite there, having gone down 28-20 to Australia in their opening match.
For coaches Stephen Kearney (NZL), Tim Sheens (AUS) and Steve McNamara (ENG), the focus will now turn to fine-tuning their sides for the knock-out phase after disposing of the meat-and-drink pool stage.
Lapses in game time have been evident from all three sides, natural in a sport that is fast, free-flowing and unforgiving, and given to ebbs and flows between attack and defence.
But strength in defence has been one noticeable stand-out, with even the second-tier teams often producing some tough resistance for large periods of the match.
Attacking options, however, are another matter, as the French clearly showed by their lack of nous with ball in hand against a well-drilled Kiwi defensive curtain.
To best garner the vital attacking strand of the game, coaches are now left with the dilemma of whether to select their top run-on team to help foster combinations, or continue with a rotational policy to give everyone a run.
All three coaches would seem to have a few options to choose from given their strength in depth, especially up front.
"We still have things to work on," said Kearney after his side's walloping of France in front of a raucous 17,500-capacity crowd in Avignon.
"There were a couple of areas in attack I could recognise. We scored some good tries, have still got improvements in us and some guys really put their hands up."
Australia coach Sheens was left ruing a tournament-ending injury to Luke Lewis, but hailing his team's defensive effort against a Fiji team packed with NRL stars in driving rain.
"We did look a little rusty and did some silly things, but defensively we were very good and we defended everything," Sheen said.
"They completed all their sets in the first half and we weren't that bad, but in the second half we were right into it. We kicked well and with the conditions so tough for both teams, we were happy with how we defended.
"We had to change our game plan because of the conditions, but the guys reacted really well and played nice and tight. We kicked well, chased well and the fact that we kept them to no tries was really nice."
Captain Cameron Smith said the focus had immediately switched to the next match, their final Pool A encounter.
"We need to be a lot better next week," said the hooker. "It needs to be squeaky clean because we've got one more game before the quarter-finals start and we need to be playing our best football."
England coach McNamara said his side's convincing victory over Ireland, in front of a record 24,375 sell-out at Huddersfield, had given him some selection issues.
"It is very difficult selecting a team and a 17 at this moment because there are so many very good players," admitted McNamara, whose build-up to the tournament was hit by the axing of Gareth Hock over a drinking session following a shock warm-up loss to Italy.
"There are some players who are very disappointed to have missed out on selection.
"I have got to make sure that we navigate our best route to being successful and if that means some people miss out, then they miss out. I am not basing my selection on the basis of keeping everyone happy."
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