Rugby League World Cup 2013 Score: Australia vs. England Result and Recap
The curtain raiser to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup was not a game for underdogs as pre-tournament favourites Australia overcame host nation England 28-20 in a close fought contest at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
From the very first whistle the match proved itself to be a highly entertaining spectacle, and worthy of its status as a World Cup opener, featuring nine tries scored between the two teams as the action ebbed and flowed from end-to-end.
England got off to a flying start, building up a 10-0 lead in the first 20 minutes before Australia rallied, growing into and eventually taking control of the contest to prove their credentials as the top-rated team in the world at present.
Johnathan Thurston was named man of the match having been central to the Kangeroos' fight back, with the Burgess brothers, George, Luke and Sam, key figures for the defeated hosts, who looked quite convincing regardless of the result to kick-off proceedings in Group A.
After falling 15-14 to international Rugby League minnows Italy in a warm up game that was far from routine last week, England's determined and tenacious showing against Australia will be a welcome boost to the team's momentum as they look to make the most of their home World Cup advantage.
National coach Steve McNamara should now be confident that his side have the firepower to trouble any of their rivals this autumn, with Ryan Hall and Leroy Cudjoe storming over the line to lift England to their early lead. Kevin Sinfield provided the extras to round to lift the score into double figures.
Much of the threat posed by England was derived from a ferocious performance from the their forward pack, who were relentless in how they pressured and got at their opponent's lines, disrupting their passing game.
Yet the second 20 minutes of the game was all Australia, with Thurston leading the counterattack with a well-taken try mid-way through the first half, followed by Greg Bird and Billy Slater to take an 18-10 lead into the break.
Brett Morris struck almost immediately on the other side of half-time to keep Australia on track, although George Burgess was able to pull a try back for England, offering the hosts a glimmer of hope that they may be able to see off their more fancied opponents.
With just half an hour left to go, tension built as both sides chased their objectives with the game set for a conclusive final act thanks to a relatively open scoreline of 22-16 in favour of the visitors.
Australia's Darius Boyd may have provided what proved to be the decisive breakthrough with a late try, following on from a converted penalty by Thurston, but England refused to back down. Josh Charnley brought the hosts close to a famous last stand with the last try of the match, but with Sinfield unable to convert his kick the opportunity never fully arose for a odds-busting finale.
The result means that Australia take control of Group A with England likely to now finish second behind them which could well lead to another thrilling contest with New Zealand who are favourites to top their own group.
While a win would have been ideal to give the hosts a chance of holding off facing the Kiwis until later in the competition, McNamara's men were a credit to themselves against a slow-starting Australia who are unlikely to allow such complacency to continue as they seek this year's World Cup crown.
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