Rugby League World Cup: Australia 18-4 England

Olivia Colman and Claire Foy
Billy Slater scored his 23rd try for Australia
Australia (10) 18
Tries: Gillett, Slater, Dugan
Goals: Smith 3
England (4) 4
Tries: McGillvary

England suffered their 12th consecutive defeat against defending champions Australia in the opening game of the World Cup in Melbourne.

England last beat the Kangaroos in the first game of the 1995 edition and the now defunct Great Britain team’s triumph in 2006 remains the last time Australia lost against northern hemisphere opposition.

Winger Jermaine McGillvary gave England the perfect start by collecting Gareth Widdop’s high pass to touch down in the corner after four minutes.

England’s defence held firm to unrelenting Australia attacks for the opening 24 minutes, but succumbed to forward Matt Gillett’s powerful run and finish before full-back Billy Slater barged over.

Although Wayne Bennett’s side posed more of an attacking threat in the second half, a handling error from Jonny Lomax deep in the Australia half proved costly and Ryan Hall was thwarted close to the try-line.

Cameron Smith added a penalty five minutes from time and, with England pushing forward, Josh Dugan scored an 80-metre interception try in the 79th minute.

A concern for Bennett will be the injury to key prop Sam Burgess, who limped off in the first half clutching his right knee.

What next?

England face Lebanon, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, on Saturday, 4 November (09:00 GMT), while Australia meet France on Friday, 3 November (09:00).

Teams:

England: Lomax; McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall; Widdop, Gale; Hill, Hodgson, Graham, Whitehead, S. Burgess, O’Loughlin (capt).

Interchanges: Currie, Heighington, T. Burgess, Roby.

Australia: Slater; Gagai, Chambers, Dugan, Holmes; Morgan, Cronk; Woods, Smith (capt), Klemmer, Cordner, Gillett, Trbojevic.

Interchanges: Graham, McLean, McGuire, Frizell.

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