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England 4 New Zealand 34
RAMPAGING Kiwi forward George Taunga wrecked England's hopes of a Student Rugby League World Cup victory in Brisbane.
Playing on Wednesday at the Arana Hills ground in the city coach Paul Fletcher saw his men overpowered as the champs marched through to wrap up a final date with Southern hemisphere rivals Australia.
Obviously disappointed Fletcher said he was still very proud of his side and the effort the whole of his squad had put in.
"But it has been a disappointing end to a very good competition. We only completed 50 per cent of our sets in the first half and gave away five penalties in the first seven minutes and you cannot win matches on that sort of thing."
"Having said that the Kiwis were a good side. Taking positives from the series I would say I now know we are in the top four teams in the world at this level. And with a little more luck I think we could have finished higher."
He added: "We had three sets after half-time when we could and should have scored and we missed a chance just before the break. Either of those chances would have pulled us back in to the picture.
"But no matter how you look at it we came here to win and we have not done that," he added.
As far as the match went England hooker David Hulme was in the thick of things right from the start making a couple of good probing runs, then falling foul of Aussie referee Chris Sutton.
But already danger was threatening in the shape of some powerhouse runs from the Kiwis.
It took New Zealand just 12 minutes to get on the scoreboard. A bomb hoisted in to the Brisbane sky took a wicked bounce leaving fullback Alex Clemie wrong-footed and Kiwi full back Jimmy O'Brien touched down and converted his own try.
But England pulled back to within two points within a couple of minutes when prop Alex Benson crossed the Kiwi line, but Martin Ainscough's conversion attempt was off the target.
O'Brien then combined with full-back Paul Aitkens to send in centre Mike Nathan for an unconverted try on 18 minutes.
Alan Robinson got close for England and then a well-worked miss move saw England full-back Alex Clemie steam on to the ball at speed but he could not hang on to the final pass.
On the half hour that man O?Brien was involved again, taking a pass from Nathan to send in Scott Hurrell. O?Brien was again wide of the mark with the conversion attempt.
As half time approached Jamie McDonald looked to be heading for a touchdown only to be denied by a superb tackle from a determined Alex Clemie to leave the score at the break 4-14.
Just after the restart England put pressure on the Kiwis, but were let off the hook when Benson made a rare fumble and knocked on. And that seemed to be the signal for Taunga to stage his one-way demolition act.
The Kiwis thought they had found a weakness in the England right side defence and hammered it on every possible occasion.
Taunga claimed his first try on 50 minutes when he came up in support of a break and cut back inside to score. Six minutes later he stormed in again and this time O'Brien had found his kicking boots to convert both and add a 58th minute penalty.
England to their credit never gave up trying and were proving equal to the opposition in terms of fitness.
And when they moved the ball across the field just after the hour Andy Walker was on hand to double England's score.
However Taunga brought any hopes of a revival to an abrupt end with his hat-trick try on 64 minutes, again converted by O'Brien.
England's man of the match Kevin Till buzzed around trying to get his men on the move and also worked his socks off defensively, while for the Kiwis it was hooker O'Brien who stepped up to receive his Kiwi man of the match shirt from RL legend Mal Meninga.
England: Tries: Benson(14), Walker (61).
New Zealand: Tries: O'Brien (12), Nathan (20), Hurrell (30), Taunga (50, 56, 64). Goals: O'Brien 5. HT 4-14
Man of the Match: England : Kevin Till. Never stopped working and urging his fellow players on to battle harder. New Zealand : Jimmy O'Brien. The Kiwi hooker seemed to have a hand in everything his side did.
Gamebreaker: George Taunga's first try which took the score to 18-4 in the Kiwis' favour. At that point it seemed as if the gap was going to prove too big for England to close.
England: 5 Alex Clemie; 7 Simon Edwards, 11 Matt Mulholland, 6 Ben Cramant, 3 Tom Tsang; 18 Kevin Till, 21 Martin Ainscough; 16 Al Robinson, 9 Richard Hulme, 2 Alex Benson, 17 Mark Spurr, 8 Scott Houston, 4 Jon Chamberlain. Subs (all used): 12 Jon Nicholls, 20 Andy Walker, 13 Dave Norcross, 1 Andrew Ali.
New Zealand: 1 Paul Aitkins; 5 Tim Carhill, 15 Tala Paleaasina, 4 Mike Natthan, 26 Scott Hurrell; 6 Mike Craig, 7 Jamie McDonald, 21 Adam Donaldson, 9 Jimmy O'Brien, 10 Chris Tupou, 11 James Koloamatangi, 16 George Taunga, 12 Andrew Auimatagi. Subs (all used): 14 Daniel McGregor, 13 Daniel Bell, 8 Aina Massina, 17 Henry Heke.
Australia 22 France 0
A PLUCKY French team made Australia graft to take their place in the final against holders New Zealand.
When prop George Ghazal, who went on to pick up the Aussie man of the match award, breached the French tryline after only four minutes and Clint Lovering added the conversion, one feared for them.
When French full-back Cedric Olieu misjudged a towering kick under the light four minutes later centre Jordan Atkins zoomed in to touch down. Lovering was again on target with the goal and it looked as if the floodgates were about to open.
The Toowoomba centre struck again on the 12th minute and Lovering made the conversion look easy as the lead shot up to 18 points without reply. Robin Villa had a chance to increase the lead just before the half hour but his penalty was off the mark.
On the half-hour France almost conceded another try but referee Father Geoff Hilton had spotted a knock-on in the build-up.
So the score remained 18-0 at the break and the home supporters were wondering just how many points their men would clock up in the second half. Even when Ali Karouche knocked on with the line beckoning with five minutes of the second half gone, it looked as if the points would continue to flow.
But France tightened up their defence and got stuck in to their task with relish, going close to the Aussie line on several occasions. Indeed on another day and with more luck they may have scored a try or two.
However the outcome was probably sealed on the hour when the normally reliable Robin Villa spilled another steepler and this time home fullback Jonathan Crawley lost no time in snapping up the chance to make the score 22-0.
Lovering was just wide with the conversion and although the French never gave up the fight the match fizzled out in to a very scrappy last quarter. So Australia got what they wanted and the French were handed a chance to gain revenge for their first round defeat by England as they will meet in the play off for third and fourth place.
Australia; Tries: Ghazal (4), Atkins (8,12), Crawley (60) Goals: Lovering 3. HT 18-0.
Man of the match Australia : George Ghazal. Apart from his early try the front-row man was a tower of strength to his side all the way through. France : Romaric Bemba. The French second-row man must have covered every blade of grass as he tried to put the brakes on Australia and also get his side on the move.
Referee: Fr Geoff Hilton (England).
Australia. 1 John Crawley; 5 Kevin Stephenson, 3 Jordan Atkins, 2 Nathan Tolloy, 19 Ali Kourouche; 6 Sam Williams, 11 Luke Hilton; 10 Quin Smith, 9 Chris Fleming, 8 George Ghazal, 18 John Ellis, 13 Clint Lovering, 12 Matt McKinnon. Subs (all used) 20 Mitchell Gaal, 4 James Rahme, 16 Ben Groves, 15 Shane Wooden.
France: 4 Cedric Olieu; 5 Robin Villa, 21Mathieu Almarcha, 12 Andrew Bailey, 3 Christophe Calegari; 7 Gregory Tiquet, 6 Sebastien Hascoet; 16 Marc Osmont, 19 Sylvain Teixido,8 Sebastien Amigas, 20 Romaric Bemba, 10 Nicolas Bouillet, 11 Thomas Valette. Subs (all used) 13 Guillaume Reffle, 9 Romain Dintilhac, 2 Mohamed Chaabi, 16 Jonathan Laskowski.
Two big Wales matches in the space of 48 hours:
In the space of 48 hours, Wales will be competing in two important Rugby League matches on opposite sides of the world.
Wales were fifth in the last two Student World Cups and Wales coach Wayne Williams who has been watching DVDs of all the Pacific Islands matches over the last two days, believes his team can keep their world ranking intact.
"We showed class and determination against Ireland and played some quality and tactical rugby," said Williams. "The Pacific Islands are a very good team and often play their best rugby in the first 20 minutes so we need to make sure we make a good start to the match. If we can play sensibly and not make too many errors, I believe we can do it."
On Saturday, Wales play their second Parkhouse Recruitment Conference Home Nations Championship match against Ireland in Dublin. Both sides have made winning starts to the campaign with Wales hammering Scotland 70-8 and Ireland surprising England at Odsal by winning 26-8.
Wales Students (from): Matt Jackson (UWIC / Cardiff Demons) Andrew Bond (UWIC / Cardiff Demons) Ben Smith (UWIC) Phil Carleton (UWIC / Aberavon Fighting Irish), Geraint Davies (Swansea University / Aberavon FI)Dean Scully (Brunel University / Aberavon FI) Pete Moore (Leeds Met / Sheffield Eagles) Neil Davies (UWIC / Aberavon FI), Dewi Scourfield (Cardiff University / Cardiff Demons) Denis Pugh (University of Glamorgan / Aberavon FI) Mark Dando (UWIC / Cardiff Demons) Matt Drew (UWIC / Cardiff Demons) Austin Saunders (Cardiff University / Cardiff Demons) Mark Burke (Swansea University / Aberavon FI) Dan Ap Dafydd (Brunel University / Aberavon FI) Gareth Morgan (UWIC / Cardiff Demons) Ross Olney (UWIC / Cardiff Demons) Jonathan Brinkworth (UWIC) Gareth Thirsk (Leeds Met / Leeds Akkies) Jason Massey (Swansea Institute / Aberavon FI)Neil Hesketh (Leeds Met / Leeds Akkies) Gavin Curry (UWIC).
WORLD CUP FIXTURES (all AEST, please deduct nine hours for BST)
Play-off for 7th-8th - Friday 15 July Scotland vs Ireland at Griffith University Nathan Campus, Brisbane, 6.15pm
Plate Final (for 5th-6th) - Friday 15 July Pacific Islands vs Wales at Griffith University Nathan Campus, Brisbane, 8pm
Home Nations Championship Dublin - Saturday 16 July Ireland vs Wales ? 3pm