Cleary shines as Kangaroos thump Scotland

Nathan Cleary has emphasised his credentials to become Mal Meninga's first-choice Australian halfback by scoring 28 points on debut in a 84-0 demolition of Scotland in Coventry.

Cleary was one of six debutants named by Australia and he wasted little time making an impact at the Rugby League World Cup as the Kangaroos put Scotland to the sword.

Watched by his father Ivan, the Penrith playmaker kicked 12 goals from 15 attempts, had three try assists and scored a try of his own.

He fell just short of Andrew Johns's record of points for a debutant (30 v South Africa, 1995) as Scotland were torn to pieces from the first minute to the last in front of a rain-soaked crowd of 10, 276 at Coventry Building Society Arena.

Still, his performance was not enough to be named man of the match with winger Josh Addo-Carr receiving the award for a four-try haul in a victory which was Australia's second biggest ever at a World Cup.

Cleary's dominant display - admittedly against a Scotland side with just a handful of full-time professionals - will give Meninga something to consider ahead of next week's final group stage game with Italy.

Cherry-Evans and Cleary are likely to line up in the halves together in a deadrubber against the Italians after Australia inflicted a record defeat on the Scots.

"We excelled tonight, you've got to be happy with that," Meninga said.

"We came with a clear plan, and our ball control was excellent in those conditions.

"All those little things we did really well. We were relentless with it through the 80 minutes.

"He (Cleary) feels like part of the team now. He controlled the game really well and that's what we want from our key guys."

Scotland are a long way from the side that clinched a draw with New Zealand in the 2016 Four Nations and the Bravehearts needed to be perfect to have any chance of troubling the Kangaroos.

But they struggled so badly they had just one play-the-ball in Australia's 20-metre zone across the 80 minutes.

They made an error off the opening kick-off and Australia hit their straps immediately with Cleary sending Addo-Carr and Jack Wighton over inside the opening 10 minutes.

Campbell Graham, who scored a hat-trick against a Bravehearts side he nearly played for at this World Cup, chimed in on the other flank with Angus Crichton and Cleary crossing to give the Kangaroos a 40-0 lead at the break.

Captain James Tedesco jinked his way over just 50 seconds into the second half and when Ben Hunt crossed in the 45th minute, Meninga gave his skipper an early mark for Valentine Holmes.

Ben Hunt, Isaah Yeo and Matt Burton also contributed to Scotland's misery after Kane Linnett was sinbinned for a professional foul.

In the final minute a Holmes error gave Scotland a gilt-edged chance to have a crack at the Australian line but they failed to even threaten.

"We were playing against the best players in the world," said Scotland Nathan Graham, adding "75 per cent of our players are part-time players and it's a massive ask to step up to this level."