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Australia have triumphed in Wigan today after a game of two halves against England. Over 23,000 fans watched the Kangaroos execute a 26-16 victory.
It was a momentous occasion for Kangaroos captain Darren Lockyer as he surpassed Mal Meninga as the most capped Australian Rugby League captain of all time, playing in his 33rd match with the (c) beside his name. Lockyer marked it early with a four-pointer after initially sending Greg Inglis on his way before receiving it back to score.
Australia kept the pace up as the second half went on, two tries in just four minutes to Australian fullback Billy Slater gave them a commanding 16-0 lead after just twenty minutes. The English defence then became guilty of giving big Inglis too much space and he simply kept running to score one of his own and by that point the Australians were matching the clock, leading 22-0 after as many minutes.
The Kangaroos were not yet done in the opening half of proceedings, a wide ball to Brett Morris after 32 minutes saw them up 26-0, and things were looking embarrassing for the hosts as the break loomed.
With predictions the 'Roos were going to continue their dominant first half form, one could be forgiven for being shocked at the way the second half turned out. England started with strong resolve and opened the scoring just four minutes in, "Slammin" Sam Burgess crossing the line to get his side on the board.
After a denial in the 56th minute, England looked more confident and their defence troubled the once-potent attack of Australia. England's other NRL import, Wests Tiger second-rower Gareth Ellis slammed down a four-pointer with twelve minutes on the clock and it seemed the match might still be in the balance. Australia held out again until the 75th minute when Lee Smith scored, but it was all too late for an England side that showed too little early on to trouble the tournament favourites. A late sin-binning for Australian half Johnathon Thurston proved too much leading into the final try for England as the Kangaroo defence cracked again.
There will be concerns from both sides, probably more notably the victors Australia, after not being able to get a single point from a scrappy second half performance. England have plenty of work to do after their dire start as well, but will be better for the experience and should rate themselves a chance of taking the game right to New Zealand next weekend at Galpharm. Australia will head to the City of Lights - Paris, to face France at Charlety Stadium. Both sides will need to defeat their counterparts to meet again in the final at Leeds on November 14.
Match Details Australia 26 def England 16 Four Nations Round 2 - Sunday November 1st, 2009 01:30am AEDT Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan, England Referee: Steve Ganson (ENG) Sideline Officials: Jose Pereira (FRA) & Adam Burns (AUS) Video Referee: Ian Smith (ENG) Crowd: 23,123 Halftime: England 0 Australia 26
England 16 Tries: Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis, Lee Smith Goals: Kevin Sinfield (1/2), Lee Smith (1/1) Australia 26 Tries: Darren Lockyer, Billy Slater (2), Greg Inglis, Brett Morris Goals: Johnathan Thurston (3/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Greg Inglis (Australia) 2 Points: Sam Burgess (England) 1 Point: Lee Smith (England)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary You can discuss the Four Nations tournament as well as the other International Rugby League being played right now - including the Pacific Cup and European Cups - simply click here!
ENGLAND: 1. Shaun Briscoe 2. Tom Briscoe 3. Lee Smith 4. Michael Shenton 5. Ryan Hall 6. Danny McGuire 7. Sam Tomkins 8. Adrian Morley 9. James Roby 10. James Graham 11. Gareth Ellis 12. Jamie Peacock (c) 13. Kevin Sinfield Interchange: 14. Sam Burgess 15. Eorl Crabtree 16. Kyle Eastmond 17. Ben Westwood AUSTRALIA: 1. Billy Slater 2. Brett Morris 3. Greg Inglis 4. Justin Hodges 5. Jarryd Hayne 6. Darren Lockyer (c) 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Ben Hannant 9. Cameron Smith 10. Petero Civoniceva 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Paul Gallen 13. Nathan Hindmarsh Interchange: 14. Brett White 15. David Shillington 16. Luke Lewis 17. Robbie Farah
Welcome to this important clash for the Four Nations, a match which could prove to send one of these sides to the Final. The sides will be 1-17, and we'll be getting underway very soon.
And remember to stick with the coverage here at LeagueUnlimited.com right after this match for the match between France and New Zealand.
Ganson ready to get us underway, Australia will kick us off.
2 min: An even start to the game, good metres made by both sides.
3 min: A bit of a high shot maybe from Hindmarsh, not penalised. Now Lee Smith does the same.
5 min: TRY Australia Well there you go, Inglis setting up yet another Green and Gold try. Making a break between two players after some good long passing, he ran off to send his skipper Darren Lockyer in for the first try of the match. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Australia 6-0
11 min: PENALTY ENGLAND The roar of this Wigan crowd up as England will have a go twenty metres out.
12 min: Thurston has been speaking out a bit too much for Ganson's liking. A bit of confusion between player and referee. Next time it will be the yellow card it seems. Anyways back to the action, they're metres out.
13 min: Sinfield found the gap, a pass thrown but it went straight to Watmough.
14 min: Briscoe doing well to keep the ball in play. A few tackles later Peacock spills it, giving Australia a shot.
16 min: TRY Australia After some more long passing Slater takes out practically half of the English defence to step and weave his way to the corner. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful. Australia 10-0
18 min: TRY Australia Here come the points avalanche, Slater has his second. Quite identical with Inglis going through the defence, this time sending it to his Storm team-mate. Slater does well to step Hall. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Australia 16-0
21 min: England finally have something to cheer about. A knock-on. 25 metres out now England, the chance is there.
22 min: An English penalty there, fifteen metres out...they have a chance.
22 min: TRY Australia Well...did you expect an Australian try from English attacking? The field position was good, but a fumble finds (in completely unlucky position) Inglis in open space, running the length of the field to keep the points coming. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Australia 22-0
28 min: The match starting to even up, but near their own line England hand the ball to Gallen...thanking the Heavens it wasn't Inglis. A penalty coming here, held too long.
30 min: England survive, their defence on their own line working well.
31 min: Bit of a brawl after a swinging arm by Hall. So they're 15 metres out. Farah has replaced Smith, let's see how this affects them.
32 min: TRY Australia Not even the commentators are celebrating. It took a wayward pass from Farah to gain the overlap, the long ball to Morris getting the scoreboard moving once more. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful. Australia 26-0
34 min: Burgess finally makes an impact, with a big hit on White. A swinging arm involved, however it did miss. The penalty has been awarded.
37 min: A series of spills gives Australia...wait...England a shot.
37 min: Roby tried to score, the tackle on him was penalised. Here come England, lead by their crowd.
38 min: Farah makes an error, trying to intercept.
39 min: After some great attacking, England make an error in the play-the-ball. An absolute waste.
And that'll be half-time. Well, there isn't much to be said.
HALF TIME - AUSTRALIA 26 lead ENGLAND 0 Again, nothing much to be said. Australia have continually attacked well, and their long-range tries have really hurt England.
We're back underway for the second half.
42 min: A quick break from Australia, but it was on the sixth tackle.
43 min: Now England break through, Australia found offside so the home side has a chance...wait...a major chance...Westwood over but held up.
44 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible England try It's the new Rabbitoh Sam Burgess. He smacks it down over the line, it looks decent for a one hand grab over the line.
44 min: TRY England So they're off the mark, starting the second half very well. Conversion attempt by Kevin Sinfield successful. Australia 26-6
45 min: Now England are making metres at will, Australia seemed to knock on from it but they've been let go.
46 min: Now a penalty to add to it, 40 metres out.
47 min: Thurston throws a poor one to give England the ball. They're going for it.
48 min: Slater throws a long one to Hayne who goes over, but the pass went forward.
49 min: A clumsy foot from Gallen during the play-the-ball earns England another penalty.
53 min: Another spill puts Australia in danger once more.
54 min: Morris carrying it over the sideline, well, they're still going at it. Now a penalty going to England, hoping to raise the ante once more.
56 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible England try Gee sorry for what I said before, Burgess takes a bomb. Well, not perfectly. Spilt. Should be "no try".
NO TRY - GOAL LINE DROP OUT
59 min: Inglis getting the ball, the metres getting made.
61 min: An Australian penalty for a second tackle.
64 min: A penalty to Australia, the game continually getting slower.
66 min: After a line drop-out, Civinoceva spills it, giving England 50 metres.
67 min: England taking Slater out over the sideline close to the Australian line, so they're still going for it, despite being beaten by the clock.
68 min: TRY England He finally gets his first of the year! Gareth Ellis (in front of his club coach) takes a beautiful offload to go over the line for a rare try. Great work from Tomkins. Conversion attempt by Lee Smith successful. Australia 26-12
70 min: Tomkins doing well again, not far from scoring something else for England. The drop from Briscoe came and Australia get a penalty. Too bad for them they didn't put it over the sideline.
74 min: SIN BIN Australia Thurston gone for the game for holding on in the tackle. Another penalty coming up too.
75 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible England try Lee Smith over, Morris doing well to possibly stop him over the sideline. Ah this will be close.
75 min: TRY England Smith's try is awarded, Sinfield's kick misses. Enough said. Conversion attempt by Kevin Sinfield unsuccessful. Australia 26-16
England playing an amazing second half, 16 unanswered points, and they're not done yet.
76 min: OOH! England go metres away from scoring again. This is stunning.
Slater throws the ball away, the crowd boos. England will have a scrum from a knock-on, 3 minutes and 18 seconds left. England on the attack.
78 min: A forward pass from Graham will FINALLY seal this game for Australia.
Full Time - Australia 26 def. England 16 A game truly of two forty minute halves. Extremely unconvincing from either side. That will see Australia most likely in the Final (unless they lose to France) with New Zealand and England to play for a spot against them next week.
Tune into LeagueUnlimited.com in the next few minutes to see how New Zealand goes against France.