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Gillette Four Nations Final
England v Australia
Most Rugby League fans take it for granted that Australia sets the standard for International Rugby League - but a review of recent history tells a frighteningly different story. Not just in the win-loss column, but in the drama surrounding our national team since 2008. Example: Coaches running from the media through airport back doors; Coaches starting fights in hotel foyers and getting fired; Players earning reputations in the media of being a destructive influence in Kangaroo camp; the trophy cabinet empty.
If this was the recent history of any NRL club - it would be a cautionary tale of woe. Rather, this story sets a beautiful backdrop to the biggest match of the International League calender, a chance at redemption for Tim Sheens and the Kangaroos and finally, just to add some flavour - Darren Lockyer's final game of Rugby League, ever.
So, with the stage set and Australia as $1.18 favourites, Elland Road in Leeds will host the 2011 Gillette Four Nations Final. England come into this match fresh off their demolition of New Zealand and with plenty of confidence after a narrow loss to the Australians a fortnight ago. This will be close and defence will be the deciding factor. Not since the days before Super League have we seen the flam of this old rivalry flicker so strongly.
On a cold night in Northern England, Rugby League will fall back to its one true philosophy - Forwards win big matches. The Australian pack will be guided, once again, by Cameron Smith and when Paul Gallen, Sam Thaiday and Matt Scott wind up, it will be too much for the home side to handle. The likes of Graham, Roby and Peacock perform admirably but class prevails in the end and Darren Lockyer holds up one last trophy. Enjoy.
Tip: Australia 19-12