Rugby League World Cup Semis
23 Nov 2013 - 1:00 PM
New Zealand 20 -18 England
New Zealand are through to the final of Rugby League World Cup 2013 after beating hosts England thanks to a last-minute try at the end of an enthralling encounter at Wembley.
New Zealand started as favourites but failed to assert their early dominance and England took an 8-0 lead through Sean O’Loughlin and kicks from Kevin Sinfield but the Kiwis levelled through Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s try and goals from Shaun Johnson.
New Zealand scored the opening try of the second half through Tuivasa-Sheck before England regained their lead with tries from Kallum Watkins and Sam Burgess, however with the last play of the game, Johnson broke through the England defence to make it 18-18 before converting his own try to win the game.
The Kiwis tested England’s line twice early on, first as Issac Luke chased his own grubber kick before Tomkins kicked the ball dead, and shortly after as Josh Charnley and Watkins forced Jason Nightingale into touch.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was fortunate to avoid being put on report for a swinging arm to a prone Sam Burgess, giving England their first opportunity to test the Kiwis’ defence.
England did make a push towards the line, but after Charnley palmed the ball back into play, Bryson Goodwin broke away; the centre only denied a try by excellent defending from Ryan Hall.
Soonafter, O’Loughlin scored the opening try of the game as the New Zealand defence failed to bring down Sam Burgess, who offloaded to the Wigan Warriors loose forward before Sinfield added the conversion.
England showed no signs of resting on their laurels and continued to apply pressure to the New Zealand line, with James Roby forcing a goal-line drop out which quickly led to an England penalty. Sinfield opted to kick for goal, increasing the lead to eight points.
New Zealand hit back after half an hour, when Dean Whare found Tuivasa-Sheck with a brilliant offload, before Johnson kicked the conversion.
The scrum-half then made it 8-8 with a penalty of his own, sending the sides in level at half time.
New Zealand were quick out of the blocks in the second half, Hall’s missed an interception opportunity allowed Tuivasa-Sheck to score his second try of the game.
As Tomkins waited underneath a high ball, Gareth Widdop was penalised for obstruction, to give New Zealand another penalty in front of the posts, which Johnson opted to kick, giving the Kiwis a six-point lead.
But England started to gather momentum, and a fresh set of six was enough to close the gap. Sinfield found Leeds Rhinos team mate Watkins who went over, with Sinfield unable to level the scores with his conversion attempt.
After an extended period of possession, England were rewarded with another try, as man of the match Sam Burgess powered over the line to restore the home side’s lead with 15 minutes left on the clock.
New Zealand were just seconds away from losing their world cup crown when a high tackle gave then a good attacking platform and Johnson made the most of it, jinking through the England defence, before converting his own try to see them through to the final.
Australia 64 - 0 Fiji
Australia booked their place in the final of the World Cup with a 64-0 win over Fiji; the tournament favourites scored six tries in a breath taking first half, and continued their dominance in the second.
It took just eight minutes for the Australians to get their noses in front. First they forced the Fijians back onto their line before Cameron Smith found Johnathan Thurston, who side stepped his marker to open the scoring. Thurston converted for a 6-0 lead.
Minutes later they went further ahead. Thriving at full-back in the absence of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis collected a loose ball on the edge of the Fijian defence and fed Darius Boyd who made no mistake from close range. This time Thurston was unable to convert from a tight angle.
Green shirts continued to pour forward and after 20 minutes they registered third try. Jarryd Hayne squeezed a pass out for Cooper Cronk to score with Thurston converting.
There was no stopping Australia and seconds later Hayne turned try scorer. A sweeping move ended with the centre who crashing over the line for his first of the match. Thurston converted to make it 22-0.
Determined to keep up the pressure, the Kangaroos powered forward again. Cronk received the ball under the posts and calmly off-loaded to Josh Papalii who dragged three Fijian tacklers across the line. Thurston was again on target with the conversion.
Unable to prevent the floods of green shirts breaking forward, Fiji found themselves even further behind in the dying seconds of the half. The irrepressible Hayne burst through the Fijian ranks to score and another Thurston conversion made it 34-0 at half-time.
A far more resilient Fijian side took the field after the break and fought tooth-and-nail to get a foothold in the game, but it was all to no avail. Cronk's delightful offload was taken by James Tamou who stretched out to add another touchdown with Thurston again on target.
Australia crossed a minute later when Boyd skipped past a challenge and cruised over for the his side’s eighth try, Thurston making it 46-0 with the conversion.
The score was mounting and they went further ahead when Hayne completed his hat-trick thanks to a clever pass from Smith. Thurston landed another conversion with little over 10 minutes remaining.
Australia kept up the pressure as the game entered its final phase, Brett Morris surging down the wing to score, followed by another successful conversion from Thurston.
Andrew Fifita rounded things off when he collected another wonderful offload by Smith and scored underneath the posts. Thurston finished off a fine kicking display with his tenth conversion of the afternoon.