Late flurry sees the Kangaroos edge out England in RLWC opener

Billy Slater

Although the scoreline may have ended up 18-4 in favour of the Australian Kangaroos, it could be argued that it does not represent the entirety of the game itself. 

A gallant England went toe-to-toe with the Australian side, holding their own in defence for the most part and putting on some good attacking raids.

The bigger concern for England, however, is an MCL injury to star forward Sam Burgess who is in doubt for the remainder of the tournament.

Equally of concern but for the Roos, is a possible pectoral rupture to forward Jake Trbojevic. After a break-out season, Trbojevic was rewarded with selection for this tournament.

The match started like your traditional Australia v England clash; some back and forth action, some brutal defence and ticker shown by all.

The English side broke the deadlock as a cut-out pass found winger Jermaine McGillvary in the corner to score.

From then on, the Kangaroos enjoyed a lengthy period of dominance with the ball in hand and the English errors cost them, as Matt Gillett burrowed his way over the line.

The Kangaroos lead was extended after Billy Slater fought his way through a gap in the English defence as the Australians went into the break up 10-4.

Although the English attacking line peppered the Australian defence and kept them on their toes, a penalty against them allowed hooker and captain Cameron Smith to extend the lead to eight.

With a minute to go, Josh Dugan capitalised on an English error to run 70m to score and sealing the win for the Kangaroos.

Despite the loss, England coach Wayne Bennett was content with his side’s performance and believed they have improved in the last 12 months.

“I was pretty happy with it overall actually,” he said.

“A really top effort by the guys and a real Test match. We’ve improved a lot since London (12 months ago).”

He also praised his side’s determination and ability to deal with tough moments.

“Just the way they stuck at it a couple of times when they got into tricky situations, hung in there really good and played some good football,” he said.

“A lot of their errors they reduced. It’s still not where they want to be, but a huge improvement.”

Australian coach Mal Meninga admits that his side could be playing better but he was pleased with their attitude and to get the win.

“We could play better,” Meninga said.

“But I was pleased with our attitude and effort.

“We improved our defence late in the game when we were under the pump. England had a lot of field possession against us.

“We got a hard battle. A lot of fatigue amongst our players.

Player of the Game:

3. Billy Slater

2. James Graham

  1. David Klemmer

Australia 18 (Matt Gillett, Billy Slater, Josh Dugan tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals) defeated England 4 (Jermaine McGillvray try) at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. Crowd: 22,724. Half-time: 10-4.

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