Australia beats England 16-12 in 4 Nations Champs
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia denied England a potentially match-winning try in the final minute for a 16-12 win in rugby league’s Four Nations Championship on Sunday, keeping alive its title defense.
Center Ryan Hall, who had already scored one of the two tries that gave England a 12-4 halftime lead, hurled himself at a ball over the Australian goal line with time almost up, desperate to give his team its first win over the Kangaroos in 19 years.
Though he got a finger to the ball as Australia fullback Greg Inglis tried to knock it dead, referees decided he did not have control and had not exerted downward pressure.
England had led until the 64th minute, but late tries to Ben Hunt and Inglis saved Australia from elimination.
If England had won, it would have assured itself a place, probably opposite New Zealand, in the Nov. 15 final in Wellington. Instead it must now beat New Zealand to have any chance of reaching the final, while Australia’s hopes rest on its last round-robin match against Samoa.
New Zealand gained a probable place in the final when it followed its 30-12 win over Australia in the first round with a lucky 14-12 win over Samoa on Saturday.
England opened its tournament with a 32-26 win over Australia and would have eliminated the Kangaroos from finals contention if it had held on to win Sunday.
It looked the better team for the much of the match, shrugging off an early try to Australia to take a 12-4 lead which endured through halftime and until the 58th minute.
Australia showed its desperation in wresting back the match with a try to Hunt, which made the score 12-10, then a 64th minute try to Inglis which gave them their first lead in 35 minutes.
After a testy beginning in which three players were placed on report within 10 minutes, Michael Jennings opened the scoring for Australia. Daly Cherry-Evans’ pass put Greg Bird through a hole in the 17th minute and he linked with Jennings who raced 30 meters to score.
Cameron Smith missed the conversion and England seized a 6-4 lead with a 29th minute try to Kallum Watkins, converted by Gareth Widdop. The try was made by Hall who broke the defense from his own 20, creating space for Sam Tomkins who fed Watkins.
England established its 12-4 lead when Hall scored off a pass from Dan Sarginson and Widdop added the conversion.
Australia needed 18 minutes in the second half to cut into England’s lead, narrowing the margin to two points with a try to Hunt, made by Cameron Smith who also converted.
Cherry-Evans then set up the decisive try for Inglis.
The match commemorated the centenary of the 1914 “Rorke’s Drift” test in Sydney, which was won by England. The teams played in the jerseys of the period: Australia in blue and maroon and England in red and white hoops.
Australia: 16 (Michael Jennings, Ben Hunt, Greg Inglis tries; Cameron Smith 2 goals), England: 12 (Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall tries; Gareth Widdop 2 goals). HT: 4-12.