Australia edge out England in first game of Rugby League World Cup
Jermaine McGillvary’s opening try had given England the lead
- Sean O’Loughlin and John Bateman both feature for national side
Australia edged out England with an 18-4 win in a bruising encounter to open the 2017 Rugby League World Cup in Melbourne.
Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin skippered the national side with John Bateman starting at left centre.
England took the lead through Jermaine McGillvary’s opening try and kept their hosts out for first quarter of the match before Matt Gillett and Billy Slater crossed in quick succession to give Mal Meninga’s side the half-time lead.
The next score would prove crucial for the outcome of the match and it was the Kangaroos who extended their lead with a Cameron Smith penalty and Josh Dugan score in the final five minutes secured victory.
To add to England’s woes, talisman Sam Burgess came off the field in the first half with a suspected knee injury, which was seen in a knee brace and could jeopardise his chances of playing any further in the competition.
Wayne Bennett’s side got off to a flyer as Luke Gale’s looping pass found McGillvary crossed in the corner after just four minutes.
Resilient defending from England kept the tournament hosts at bay for 23 minutes but the repeat sets eventually took their toll when Gillett sliced through the backline to move 6-4 ahead.
That gave Australia confidence and they soon grabbed a second score when full-back Slater crashed over to extend their lead to six points at the break.
England had their chances to get back in the match with Ryan Hall and Josh Hodgson coming up just short while Michael Morgan was inches away from touching down at the other end.
Smith, who finished with six points, added a penalty with five minutes left to extend the lead to 12-4 before centre Dugan scored an 80-metre breakaway try in the 78th minute to seal victory in the tournament opener.
Report - rugby-league.com