Cronulla Sharks forward Wade Graham stars with quartet of tries for Australia in World Cup win over France

Out of my way: Sharks back-rower Wade Graham starred with four tries for Australia in their World Cup win over France. Picture: AAP
Out of my way: Sharks back-rower Wade Graham starred with four tries for Australia in their World Cup win over France. Picture: AAP

Australia’s World Cup demolition of France became the Wade Graham show on Friday night, with the Sharks back-rower scoring four tries in the 46-point romp.

The Kangaroos ran out 52-6 winners in Canberra with Graham’s Cronulla teammate Valentine Holmes, future Sharks teammate Josh Dugan and Dragons forward Tyson Frizell also crossing for Australia.

Australia also had to overcome the late withdrawal of Cronulla five-eighth James Maloney who had been named to start. Maloney left the Kangaroos camp on Friday for personal reasons which saw Cameron Munster take his place in the halves alongside Michael Morgan.

But it was Graham who stole the show, becoming the first Australian forward to score four tries in a match since Gorden Tallis in 2000. Graham completed his hat-trick in just over half an hour before adding a fourth in the second half.

Graham said he was most proud of the fact his achievement came in front of his father watching on in the crowd.

“To be able to do something like that in front of your family is pretty special,” he said.

“Once I finish playing footy I’ll be able to look back on this game and have this forever. 

“It’s certainly very pleasing from a personal view but I’m just happy we performed as a team. This tournament is going to be a progression, we’re going to try and get better each game.

“I was just in the right place at the right time. I’m happy to be a part of this squad as a hole. It’s a fair list of players. I know I played well tonight but there’s a fair back-rower that normally plays on the left (Boyd Cordner] and I’m pretty sure he’ll be lining up in the [13] for the rest of the tournament. 

“Whatever I can do to help this team have success I’ll do. I’m very grateful to be in this team. It’s a very hard team to get in to. There’s a lot of quality players that wish they could be here… whether it’s coming off the bench, whether it’s carrying water bottles I just want to contribute to this team. Whatever that role means for me I’m willing to do it.”

Graham first showed his strength to barge over carrying a couple of French defenders with him to open the scoring, then had his second inside the opening 15 minutes.

He showed his fend to score his third and had time for almost 10 minutes rest on the bench before half-time. When Graham completed his hat-trick and Dugan produced his solo effort Australia were out to a 20-6 lead at the break.

Graham returned to torment the French right edge as he crossed for his fourth of the night, with Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith kicking the conversion on his historic night where he set a new record in passing Clive Churchill's mark of 35 consecutive Test matches.

Munster completed his double before Holmes ended the night's scoring after he replaced Billy Slater late on.

Australia now face Lebanon at Allianz Stadium in their final group game on Saturday.

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