80:00
Fri 27 October 2017
AAMI Park - Crowd: 22724

Australia secure win over England in World Cup opener

The Australians have score points late to ensure victory over a brave England side 18-4 in front of over 22,000 fans in Melbourne to open the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

While the Kangaroos were hot favourites coming into the clash, it wasn't going their way early - Wayne Bennett's men claiming first points down the right wing with Jermaine McGillvary grabbing the opening four-pointer of the tournament in the north-east corner of Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

Gareth Widdop's missed conversion left the visiting English side vulnerable and while it took until the 22nd minute, the Aussies were eventually able to strike back and claim the lead when Matt Gillett took advantage of the numbers attacking England's left side defence, ducking and weaving through to open the account for the green-and-gold.

With Smith converting and the hosts ahead 6-4, the Aussies then looked to convert their dominance in field position to further points, which they were able to do through Billy Slater at the half hour mark. A miss from Smith kept England within six points despite conceding twice.

If going behind wasn't bad enough, things got worse for the red and white with Sam Burgess leaving the field five minutes before the break. He failed to return for the rest of the time, a medial ligament injury the early prognosis. He returned to the bench after halftime in a leg brace to watch his side's efforts.

Those efforts reaped no further points after halftime, trailing 10-4 upon the resumption of play. While England came close on a couple of occasions, the scorers weren't troubled at all until five minutes from time when Smith added a penalty goal, before Josh Dugan snapped up a desperate England ball which saw the Australian centre sprint over 80 metres to ice the Kangaroos' win.

Pool A's other match of the opening weekend will see France and Lebanon face off in Canberra on Sunday afternoon. Next week Australia face France in Canberra while England are in Sydney to take on Lebanon.

3. Billy Slater

2. James Graham

1. Cameron Smith