The Rugby League World Cup kicked off in Melbourne with Australia taking on a valiant England side, winning 18-4 in the final minutes.
KANGAROOS BEAT ENGLAND LATE
The Australian Kangaroos were able to hold on late against England, with the score 10-4 until the 75th minute. The home side was able to pinch eight points from penalties conceded by England throughout the match, which was crucial with the Australians playing sloppy. A late conversion from a two-man strip and a favourable bounce for centre Josh Dugan to run 70 metres finished the game for the Kangaroos.
ENGLAND SHOW IMPROVEMENT
England showed Wayne Bennett’s effect on the team, with much improvement from previous matches under him. They gained an early lead from a shift to five-eighth Gareth Widdop to pass a pinpoint floating ball to winger Jermain McGillvary in the opening minutes. England stayed in the contest for the remainder of the match, only down a converted try five minutes from fulltime. England showed they are capable of being strong in this World Cup by matching the top side.
RUSTY PERFORMANCE FROM BOTH TEAMS
This opening fixture indicated the players were rusty after a month off and will take time to regain match fitness. The combinations of both teams will be a work in progress the deeper that the competition goes, both halves showing glimpses of form they had in Super League and the National Rugby League.
SAM BURGESS INJURED
Late in the first half English forward Sam Burgess was tackled by opposition second rower Matt Gillett, finding himself in an awkward position and buckling his knee. Burgess was taken off for assessment and did not return, with the England side diagnosing a medial ligament tear – or worse – that could see one of their star players and seasoned campaigners out of the event.
WONDERS OF ONE REFEREE
The return of rugby league’s international rules shone through, which resulted in less video refereeing and the single referee, allowing the match to flow at a high speed and intensity. The refreshing traditional rules of rugby league was a sign of how effective having only one on-field referee can be, with only three penalties, letting the teams shift the ball without many stoppages.
Australian Kangaroos 18 Tries: Matt Gillett, Billy Slater, Josh Dugan Goals: Smith 3/4
Tries: Jermain McGillvary Goals: Widdop 0/1
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