1st December 2017
England out for revenge against Australia in Rugby League World Cup final
England’s 22 year wait to appear in a Rugby League World Cup final will finally come to an end tomorrow morning when they go up against the mighty Australia in Brisbane, but their chances don’t look good according to one UCFB academic.
Nearly five weeks on from a bruising 18-4 defeat in the competition opener to the hosts, England will attempt to lift the trophy for the first time against an Australian side who have been hot favourites from the start.
The Wallabies, who are also the holders, have raced to the final, sweeping aside France and Lebanon – as well as England – in the group stage, before racking up a total of 100 points against Samoa and Fiji in the knockout rounds. England saw off Papua New Guinea in the quarters before beating Tonga in their semi-final, despite a late scare.
England will have to do without inspirational captain Sean O’Loughlin, who picked up an injury during the semi-final win. Sam Burgess will instead lead the side out, two years on from his brief stint representing England during their disastrous 2015 union World Cup campaign.
If England are to lift the trophy, they’ll have to halt a 12-game losing run against Australia.
Rugby League and Warrington Wolves fan Greg Nixon, who’s programme leader for BA (Hons) Football Business & Media at UCFB Etihad Campus, predicts an Australian victory.
He said: “This is the final most people would have predicted and is Australia’s to lose. Injuries to Josh Hodgson and Sean O’Loughlin have not helped England in the build-up, but in James Roby and Ben Currie, they have two replacements who just might add that little bit of pace and directness in the pack.
“England cannot allow for the lapses in concentration that allowed Tonga to come from 20-0 down to almost snatch the game in the last seven minutes of the semi-final. Switch off for a second against the Aussies and they will punish you.”
He added: “In Cooper Cronk, Australia have a half-back capable of punishing any team with his kicking game. England have to be aware of this and hope that Luke Gayle and Kevin Brown can bring their own kicking games to keep turning the big Australian forwards around.
“Australia have been unbeaten in this competition and conceded very few points on the way. They have the big names and big game experience not just to edge this one but win convincingly, even if England manage to keep the scores close for 60 minutes.”