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Great Britain coach Brian Noble put on a brave face after Australia almost certainly shattered his side?s Gillette Tri-Nations hopes on Saturday night.
The Lions produced a much improved performance at the JJB Stadium but two late tries saw the Aussies snatch a flattering 20-6 victory to move within touching distance of the final.
The defeat leaves Britain needing to win their remaining two group matches against New Zealand and the Kangaroos by considerable margins to move up the table on points difference.
Noble said: ?Those couple of soft tries may come back and bite us on the backside later in the tournament.
?But we asked for an improved performance and we got one from our boys. I am extremely delighted with what they came up with.
?We couldn?t get over the whitewash but we created field position and won an arm wrestle for once.
?We were really strong and we have still got some improvement in us.?
Britain trailed 8-0 at half-time after conceding a try to Matt Cooper but fought back to within two points with an Adrian Morley touchdown.
That remained the difference until the closing minutes when Australia were awarded a penalty for a ball-stealing offence.
Craig Fitzgibbon put his shot at goal wide but Noble felt that incident signalled a change in the game as moments later Anthony Minichiello crossed and then Cooper grabbed his second.
?With five minutes to go a call went against us which kind of changed the momentum,? Noble said. ?I?ve seen it on the TV screen and I think it was harsh.
?But I couldn?t ask any more of the players and I know they will lift because we?ve got to improve some more next week.
?There is very little between the three teams.?
Australia?s victory put them level with New Zealand at the top of the table on four points. Britain are on zero with two matches remaining and a minus-30 points difference.
Kangaroos coach Wayne Bennett felt his side earned due reward for a gritty physical performance.
Bennett said: ?It was a tough game of football. Both teams gave a lot.
?Our defence was outstanding ? and we did put ourselves under pressure.
?The game was there to be won. They had lots of opportunities to win it but didn?t. ?We got down there after we got a bit of field position but there was nothing in the game and both teams had their moments.?
Aussie captain Darren Lockyer agreed there was little between the two sides.
The stand-off said: ?The scoreline doesn?t reflect how close the game was but the way we defended we deserved two points.
?At 8-6 we knew we were under a bit of pressure but the defence was the key for us.?
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this post-match report.