Same old same old. Australia had just enough quality to edge out England, who went down 6-0 in the World Cup final up in Brisbane.
Here’s what we made of it.
A War of Attrition
Big fan of low scoring games. They’re not everyone’s favourite cup of tea but boy are they battles. Physically that was huge. Both sides gave everything and some of the hits were frightening. You can’t question England’s effort, in particular from the likes of James Graham, Elliot Whitehead and co, they were so close but ultimately it was that same familiar feeling at fulltime as Australia closed out another World Cup title.
Australia have now won 13 test matches in a row. That’s an incredible record. They’ve conceded just three tries for a total of 16 points all tournament. If anything that shows the ridiculous quality at their disposal, but England matched them. Think about that for a second. The fact that we’re disappointed at the full-time result speaks volumes. That’s the mentality we need moving forward. Despite all that we SHOULD of beaten them.
Australia built continuous pressure and ultimately scored off such pressure. England meanwhile were hellbent that they had to score every time they entered their oppositions twenty. That resulted in errors and missed opportunities, like going into touch on the second tackle, or kicking too early in the set. Frustrating, and even more so that the poor choices in attack came from the half backs, the two men that are supposed to show that composure. We had more chances to score than Australia and we should have capitalised on them. It feels like another missed opportunity.
Lack of quality where it matters most
England more than matched Australia in the forwards and in the three-quarters, in fact they got better as the game went on, but unfortunately the areas where a difference in quality occurred was in the half backs. I’m sorry Cas fans, but Luke Gale is just not good enough at this level and has been exposed all tournament. He panicked under pressure, offered nothing with his passing, and got Australia on the front foot or relieved the pressure with his poor kicks close to the line. Kevin Brown meanwhile offered little and was a passenger for most of the contest.
Defence was outstanding
Defensively England were brilliant and because of such efforts they gave themselves an opportunity to win the game. Their scramble was excellent and ability to catch under pressure equally so. Last ditch defence kept Australia at bay and gave the tourists a fighting chance right until the end.
Gareth Widdop is class
Another ridiculous performance from England’s most talented player, Gareth Widdop. The St George star was a freak at fullback. Positional awareness sound and caught well, baring one drop, all night. Looked to link in the attack but came up against an almost perfect Aussie defence.
So close yet so far
Margins. An ankle tap from Josh Dugan on a runaway Kallum Watkins was the difference. The Leeds centre was outstanding all tournament and so nearly provided our star moment. It’s also worth noting England were missing Sean O’Loughlin and Josh Hodgson to injury, but let’s not sink to excuses. The bottom line is Australia through State of Origin are used to that intensity and it told. They are pass masters at grinding games out.
Hate to say we told you so
I’m not an expert and don’t proclaim to be one, but results tell and England’s squad selections were poor. John Bateman is not a centre, Chris Heighington offers little and the halves were anonymous. There’s two pivots sat at home that should have been in that squad. Sam Tomkins and Marc Sneyd. Our ginger sort is the man for the big occasion whilst Tomkins’ experience is invaluable. He would have made a difference. Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, but questions of Wayne Bennett and Dennis Betts need to be asked.
Australia Starting XIII: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Josh Dugan, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. David Klemmer, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Wade Graham, 15. Jordan McLean, 16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 17. Tyson Frizell.
Australia Tries: Cordner. Goals: Smith 1/1
England Starting XIII: 1. Gareth Widdop, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. John Bateman, 5. Ryan Hall, 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Chris Hill, 9. James Roby, 10. James Graham, 16. Ben Currie, 12. Elliot Whitehead, 11. Sam Burgess. Interchange: 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Thomas Burgess, 17. Chris Heighington, 18. Jonny Lomax.
England Tries: N/A. Goals: N/A
Scoring System: 6-0