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The much anticipated final between Australia and Great Britain has fizzled with the Kangaroos smashing Great Britain 44-4 in front of a sell out crowd at Elland Road, Leeds.
The game was a seven tries to one rout and the question must be asked, can Great Britain rebuild after such a devastating loss and where does the international game go from here after a highly successful round robin series?
Great Britain were never in the match as the Australians scored at better than a point a minute for the majority of the first half and went to the break with an unbeatable 38-0 lead.
The second half was a scrappy affair with neither side showing a great deal of interest and the Brits would have been happy not to front up for the second forty, such was the dominance and skill of the Australians. At least they kept the second forty to a 6-4 contest but the Australians had taken their foot off the pedal and were already thinking of their trip to Philadelphia for their match against the USA, then back home for a well deserved break after a gruelling regular and representative season both at home and abroad.
Some of the tries and lead up work from the Australians simply had to be seen to be believed, such was the level of skill from the men in green and gold. The second Australian try scored by Anthony Minichiello is one of the best tries ever seen in Rugby League and the lead up work to the try by Shane Webcke, Danny Buderus and Darren Lockyer was nothing short of outstanding. Australia also landed eight goals from eight attempts with Darren Lockyer and Craig Fitzgibbon sharing the kicking duties with a 100% strike rate.
The Australians also made a mockery of the decision to award Great Britain captain Andy Farrell as the world?s best player. He tried hard but was highly ineffective as were most of his countrymen against a defence ready to belt the Brits into submission for the full eighty minutes.
Darren Lockyer and Anthony Minichiello had superb games for the Kangaroos whilst there were not many shining lights for Great Britain with their big name players failing to fire but Martin Gleeson and Danny McGuire never stopped trying, although their efforts were all in vain as the Great Britain team squandered possession and took some terrible options in attack which made them easy pickings for an Australian side hungry to assert their dominance over a cocky Great Britain side who went into the match supremely confident, believing their were deserved favourites against one of the best and most dominant teams to ever grace world sport.
It wasn?t so much an ambush on the part of the Australians rather than a precise surgical strike on an enemy who thought they were at the top of their game. Australian coach Wayne Bennett played his cards beautifully during the week, letting Great Britain hog the limelight and give themselves a high profile build-up that only added insult to injury in the final wash up.
Australia has again shown they are light years ahead of the competition although the Tri Nations overall was a resounding success and for the good of the international game, the concept must be made a regular fixture on the Rugby League calendar and must be showcased both in England and Australia/ New Zealand to give fans of the international game a chance to show their support for the concept.
Australian captain and undisputed world's best player Darren Lockyer won the man of the match award and with age, he continues to improve and will no doubt go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
Scorers: AUSTRALIA KANGAROOS 44 Tries: M Sing, A Minichiello 2, W Tonga 2, D Lockyer, W Mason Goals: Lockyer 6/6, Fitzgibbon 2/2
GREAT BRITAIN LIONS 4 Tries: S Reardon Goals: Farrell 0/1
By the clock: Good morning in Australia, good evening in England and welcome to League Umlimited's coverage of the Tri-Nations Final. Kick off is around ten minutes away. The Teams about to run onto the field.
1st Min: We have Kick Off in the 2004 Tri-Nations Final!!!
2nd Min: Great tackle by Morley and GB have the ball back, as I speak Jamie Peacock knocks on.
4th Min: Penalty Goal to Australia through the boot of Darren Lockyer. Australia 2-0.
5th Min: Chance for Great Britain after a banana kick from Sean Long but it just couldn't be picked up by a GB player.
6th Min: Great Try Saving Tackle by Stuart Fielden on Matt Sing.
8th Min: TRY-AUSTRALIA, try to Matt Sing after a knock on by GB up the field and after Australia went on the attack Anthony Minichiello put in a grubber and Sing went over to score. Lockyer converts from the sideline. Australia 8-0.
12th Min: TRY-AUSTRALIA, Anthony Minichiello scores for Australia after some great play by Australia getting them 5 Meters away from the Try-Line. Lockyer good ball to Minichiello and he goes in. Lockyer converts and Australia lead 14-0.
16th Min: TRY-AUSTRALIA, Australia are putting on a show this morning with more great play with it ending with Willie Tonga scoring off a cross field kick from Lockyer. Lockyer converts and Australia lead 20-0.
21st Min: Great defence by Australia after Great Britain were attacking on Australia's line, score remains 20-0 Aus.
23rd Min: TRY-AUSTRALIA, Anthony Minichiello gets his 2nd try under the posts. All to easy and Lockyer Converts. Australia 26-0.
25th Min: TRY-AUSTRALIA, Darren Lockyer scores after he made a break and ran 50m to score another Try. Lockyer converts and Australia lead 32-0.
31st Min: Great Britain putting some good play together and they will get another set of six after a great little grubber kick by Andy Farrell.
33rd Min: Horrible spear tackle by Ryan Bailey on Craig Fitzgibbon, Penalty to Australia.
Halftime: The score says it all, Australia lead 38-0 at halftime. Australia are just beating Great Britain in all areas of the game. Although on the few times GB have had to attack, they have shown some promise. Second half to come.
41st Min: We have kick off in the 2nd half of the Tri-Nations final.
43rd Min: TRY-AUSTRALIA, Willie Mason joins the party after a grubber kick from Brett Kimmorley sets up the try. Fitzgibbon converts and Australia lead 44-0.
44th Min: TRY-GREAT BRITAIN, Stuart Reardon score Great Britains first after a nice little grubber kick by Danny Mcguire. Farrell misses and it remains 44-4 to Australia.
48th Min: Oh so close to another Try for Great Britain but the last pass to Brian Carney was foward else he was in for Great Britain's second.
53rd Min: GB are playing a bit better, I think that is also because Australia has relaxed a bit. Score remains Australia 44-4.
61st Min: A chance for Great Britain but again it goes over the dead-ball line.
63rd Min: No Try to Terry Newton after he was held up by Brett Kimmorley.
69th Min: Just over 10 mins remaining and it's still 44-4 to Australia.
76th Min: Four minutes left in the Tri-Nations of 2004.
Australia are off to play a game against the USA on Wednesday at 11.30am ADST, after that the next Rugby League game will be in around 2 months when the WCC takes place on Feb 4. That is it for today, Australia has won 44-4.
Merry Christmas from everyone here at League Unlimited.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - D Lockyer (Australia) 2 - A Minichiello (Australia) 1 - W Mason( Australia) -----------------------------------------