There were highs, lows and injury blows for the 10 NSW Blues in action across Week 1 fixtures of the Rugby League World Cup.
In an enthralling start to the tournament, seven Blues turned out for the Australian Kangaroos in their 14-point win over England on Friday, 2017 Brad Fittler Medallist David Klemmer leading the way his powerhouse performance.
Klemmer ran for 190 metres – the most of any Australian forward – from his and was well supported by fellow Blues pack member, Aaron Woods.
Woods’ 17 carries shaded the next best in Klemmer himself (15), with the soon-to-be Bulldog totalling 155 metres inside his 54 minutes of play.
Blues Captain Boyd Cordner was damaging in his work, running for 130 metres from his 13 carries, while breaking the line twice throughout his 62 minutes.
Off the bench, debutants Wade Graham and Jordan McClean were handy despite playing limited minutes, while NSW enforcer Tyson Frizell was at his reliable best.
“[Klemmer] was very good; I thought our middle players were very good tonight,” Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said post-match.
“Jordan McLean, Josh McGuire and [Tyson] Frizell off the bench as well, I thought our bench made a difference when they came on.
“I thought all of our forwards were exceptionally good tonight and they put us under a lot of pressure through the middle, I thought we handled it really well.”
In what was a tough, bruising affair to kick-start the World Cup, Josh Dugan secured the Australian win with his 70-metre dash to score the match's final try.
A sour note to come out of the Australian win, 2017 Tru Blue Award winner Jake Trbojevic was confirmed to have torn a pectoral muscle, and will now miss the remainder of the Kangaroos World Cup campaign.
“It’s pretty disappointing, but I guess that’s footy,” Trbojevic said of his injury
“I’ll go back, do the rehab, and hopefully I’m back for Round 1 (2018) for Manly.”
Elsewhere, Blues veteran Jarryd Hayne equalled a long-standing Rugby League World Cup record with a try in the Fiji Bati’s 58-12, 11 tries to two win over the USA in Townsville.
The 29-year-old's try in the 46th minute was his 13th in World Cup matches - equalling the existing record of NSWRL The Star Hall of Famer, Bob Fulton.
Hayne's World Cup feat comes on the back of his try-scoring efforts in the Origin arena earlier in 2017, where in Game Two of the series, he equalled Michael O'Connor's record of 11 Blues tries.
James Tedesco and the Azzuri were sprung in the shock result of the weekend, as Ireland dismantled the Italians on their way to a 36-12 victory.
Tedesco had few moments of joy, with Italy now turning their collective attention to next Sunday’s must-win clash against the USA in Townsville.
Tonga kicked off their highly-anticipated World Cup campaign with a blistering 50-4 win over Scotland in Cairns.
Inspired by Blues forward Andrew Fifita and fellow wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo, the Tongans were at their dominant best throughout the first 40 minutes, all-but keeping pace with the clock in taking a 38-0 lead to the sheds at half-time.
True Blues Michael Jennings (3) and Daniel Tupou (2) had little trouble in finding multiple tries, while fellow former NSW star William Hopoate turned in a steady performance at the back.
Elsewhere, True Blues Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah were inspirational in Lebanon’s historic 29-18 win over France in Canberra.
Defeating the French - who have a long Rugby League history and are currently ranked sixth globally - was no mean feat for the 18th-ranked Lebanese.
The 11-point win the Cedars’ first victory in World Cup history, but the task will not get easier for Brad Fittler’s men in the coming weeks – with Lebanon set to take on powerhouses England and Australia at the Sydney Football Stadium in the next fortnight.
RLWC Week 1 Results:
Australia 18 (Gillett, Slater, Dugan tries; Smith 3 goals) defeated England 4 (McGillivray try) at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. Crowd: 22,724.
PNG Kumuls 50 (Mead 3, Martin 2, MacDonald, Ottio, W Albert, Olam, Aiton tries; Martin 5 goals) defeated Wales 6 (Grace try; Davies goal) at Oil Search National Football Stadium. Crowd: 14,800.
New Zealand 38 (Rapana, Johnson, Takairangi, Nikorima, Liu, Tuivasa-Sheck, Asofa-Solomona tries; Johnson 5 goals) def. Samoa 8 (Maumalo, Paulo tries) at Mount Smart Stadium. Crowd: 17,857.
Fiji Bati 58 (Milne 2, Naiqama 2, Vunivalu 2, Evans, Hayne, Kikau, Raiwalui, Uate tries; Koroisau 5, Milne 2 goals) def. USA 12 (Shipway, Vaiavai tries; Faraimo 2 goals)
Ireland 36 (Kay 2, King, Amor, Morgan, McCarthy-Scarsbrook tries; Finn 6 goals) def. Italy 12 (Castellaro, Milone tries; Josh Mantellato 2 goals) at Barlow Park.
Lebanon 29 (Robinson 2, Layoun, Doueihi, Moses tries; Moses 4 goals; Moses field goal) def. France 18 (Ader 2, Cardace tries; Barthau 3 goals) at Canberra Stadium.
Mate Ma'a Tonga 50 (Jennings 3, Tupou 2, Taumalolo, Manu, Terepo, Hingano tries; Taukeiaho 6, Hingano 1 goals) def. Scotland 4 (Addy try) at Barlow Park, Cairns. Crowd: 9,216.