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RLWC Preview: Australia vs. England

Dan Talintyre

AUS v ENG

Australia will take on England in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final this Saturday in Brisbane as they look to make it three successive World Cup wins.

Having easily accounted for a surprisingly sluggish Fiji side last weekend to book their 13th consecutive World Cup Final, Mal Meninga’s side will rightly head in to Saturday’s final as favourites with no team capable (so far) of stopping their free-flowing attack.

As it was in their quarterfinal victory over Samoa, the left edge again sparkled against Fiji, with Valentine Holmes taking his tally to 11 tries in the past two weeks alone.

The Kangaroos have now scored more points than any other team in the World Cup, while averaging just 16 points in the entire tournament — less than one try per game!

For England, last week’s win over Tonga will have felt more like a relief than anything else after Wayne Bennett’s side narrowly avoided a furious comeback from the underdogs — scraping through to the final to banish the demons of their 2013 defeat.

The win came at a huge cost, however, with hooker Josh Hodgson sustaining a serious knee injury that will see him miss the final and the majority of the 2018 NRL season.

Already listed as rank outsiders, that injury will do England no help in their bid to knock off the Kangaroos, but despite publicly saying their form hasn’t been good enough, Bennett will no doubt take comfort from their performance against Australia in the tournament opener. On that night, Australia emerged with a 16-4 victory that doesn’t at all tell the story of the match, with the final scoreline anything but a reflection of the attacking opportunities England’s right edge in particular had before the hosts’ late try.

If they are any hope of stopping the Kangaroos’ juggernaut in it’s track, the key is in attack for England, who showed plenty of promise early against Tonga last weekend. Their defence has shown to be able to at least hold Australia from time-to-time, but they’ll need to turn their chances in order to mount pressure of a potential upset.
 

World Cup Final: Australia vs. England

MATCH DETAILS

Date: Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Time: 8:00pm AEDT (7:00pm local time)

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

 

LIVE STREAM AND TV INFORMATION

Live Stream — Channel 7’s https://7live.com.au/ (Australia only)

TV — Click here for a full country-by-country list of TV broadcasts.

 

TEAM NEWS

Australia

 

England

Billy Slater

1

Gareth Widdop

Dane Gagai

2

Jermaine McGillvary

Will Chambers

3

Kallum Watkins

Josh Dugan

4

John Bateman

Valentine Holmes

5

Ryan Hall

Michael Morgan

6

Kevin Brown

Cooper Cronk

7

Luke Gale

Aaron Woods

8

Chris Hill

Cameron Smith (capt.)

9

James Roby

David Klemmer

10

James Graham

Body Cordner

11

Sam Burgess

Matt Gillett

12

Elliot Whitehead

Josh McGuire

13

Sean O’Loughlin (capt.)

Wade Graham

14

Alex Walmsey

Jordan McLean

15

Thomas Burgess

Reagan Campbell-Gillard

16

Ben Currie

Tyson Frizell

17

Chris Heighington

Reserves (AUS) — Felise Kaufusi, Tom Trobjevic, Cemeron Munster, Ben Hunt

Reserves (ENG) — Jonny Lomax, Scott Tayior, George Williams, Mark Percival

 

RLWC RESULTS SO FAR

Australia

It's been a perfect World Cup so far for Australia, with 18-4, 52-6 and 34-0 wins over England, France and Lebanon respectively putting them top of Group A. Drawing Samoa in the quarterfinal, the Kangaroos put on an emphatic performance to win 46-0 before thrashing Fiji 54-6 last week in Brisbane to book their spot in the final.

England

After going down 18-4 to Australia in the tournament opener, Wayne Bennett's side bounced back with a 29-10 win over Lebanon and 36-6 win over France to finish second in Group A. A hard-fought 36-6 win over Papua New Guinea took the Wall of White through to the final four, where their thrilling 20-18 victory over Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium ensured they would have a chance to permanently expel the demons of 2013.

 

HISTORY — Played 15; Australia 12; England 2; Drawn 1.

 

KEY MATCHUP — Valentine Holmes v Jermaine McGillivary

Both wingers have been sensational throughout the World Cup — Holmes absolutely set the Fiji on fire scoring with six tries to put him well on top the top try-scorers list at the tournament with 12. His opponent this week in McGillvary has similarly been as good for England, with seven tries, 35 tackle breaks and 13 linebreaks throughout the tournament. The opening match between these two sides saw a defensive struggle in the middle, which led to few chances out wide, but the times England did spin the ball to the right, they looked capable of unlocking the Kangaroos' defence on several occasions. If they can do that again on Saturday, McGillvary may be the man most likely of keeping the underdogs in the contest.

 

STORYLINE TO FOLLOW — Cam Smith's perfect 2017 

Cameron Smith’s 2017 simply couldn’t have been scripted better. Captaining Queensland to yet another State of Origin series win and the Melbourne Storm to the Minor Premiership and the NRL Premiership, Smith also added the individual honours of Dally M Medal, Hooker of the Year and Captain of the Year — rightly claiming the Golden Boot Award earlier this week. To captain the Kangaroos to a World Cup victory would not only solidify Smith’s 2017 season as one of the best individual seasons of all time, but further his career status as one of the best to ever grace the field.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

If we put up a good performance, everyone will be really happy because they've been unbeaten in two years, they're playing good footy and no one has got close to them except us in one game." — England Coach Wayne Bennett

"England's just, they're a complete footy side.. You have to play for 80 minutes to beat England. They pushed us all the way in Melbourne in the first game and we'll have to do that again this week." — Kangaroos forward Boyd Cordner

 

PREDICTION

We figure the match will play out similar to the tournament opener, which could see a downturn in points scored by both points on the night. With their defence as strong as it has been ever before and their halves capable of breaking open any game, it'd take a brave man to pick against the Kangaroos, and that's not us. Australia by 12.