Australia won the Rugby League World Cup for the 11th time after a pulsating 6-0 win over England at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The two sides met in the tournament’s opening game and came face-to-face once more in its final meeting with the Paul Barriere trophy on the line, with Australia coming out on top on both occasions.
Boyd Cordner scored the only try of the game in the first-half to ensure the Kangaroos successfully defended the title they won in 2013.
“It was one of the toughest games I’ve played in my entire career” – Cameron smith
“It feels amazing to finally get a World Cup victory on home soil”, said victorious captain Cameron Smith.
“It was one of the toughest games I’ve played in my entire career so it is a really pleasing victory for the boys.
“It’s been a hard road but I’m very happy to say the Kangaroos are the best team in the world”, added the veteran hooker.
England began their first World Cup final since 1995 without injured skipper Sean O’Loughlin who was ruled out with a quad injury, while Australia named an unchanged side and bench from their semi-final thrashing of Fiji.
The opening exchanges were tight and the tension boiled over in the tenth minute as a scuffle broke out following Luke Gale’s high tackle on Smith as both teams defended resolutely.
And that seemed to spark Australia in to life as they began to ramp up the pressure on the England defence with Elliot Whitehead forced to ground the ball in England’s in-goal area to prevent an Australia score.
But that only momentarily stopped the tide as Australia swept left to allow man-of-the-match Cordner to ride a tackle and bundle over the line. Smith added the extras to bring his tournament tally to a golden boot winning 50 points.
“Defence wins big matches but it wins tournaments as well” – cameron smith
And Australia thought they had extended their advantage early in the second period as Michael Morgan crossed the line only to see the try chalked off by the video referee who ruled Smith had obstructed the English defensive line by blocking off Whitehead as Morgan drove for the line.
England searched desperately for the score they needed to level the game but the Australian defence remarkably stood firm to the sustained pressure to see the game out, with a highlight reel tap-tackle from Josh Dugan to stop a Kallum Watkins break a stand-out moment.
“We spoke from the very first day about defence winning big matches but it wins tournaments as well”, said Smith.
“Conceding 16 points across six games is a pretty remarkable effort, especially tonight. England had so many tackles inside our 20 metre zone but we just kept turning them around.
“I’m really happy for everyone.”
“we created breaks but just couldn’t finish them. credit to Australia, they were too good” – gareth widdop
“It’s a tough one to take,” said devastated England prop James Graham.
“There was a couple of opportunities where we got a break but you have to credit Australia who scrambled so well in defence.”
And that disappointment was echoed by stand-off Gareth Widdop.
“I’m certainly disappointed but also really proud of the effort everyone put in.
“We created a fair few line breaks but we just couldn’t finish them. Australia scrambled so well and credit to them, they were just too good.”
The victory completed a back-to-back World Cup double for Australia as their women’s team overcame New Zealand 23-16 earlier in the day to successfully defend the ladies trophy.
–Alistair Sargent, Editor