Rugby League World Cup Final: Australia v England Preview

Old foes Australia and England will lock horns in the Rugby League World Cup Final on Saturday the 2nd of December. 

Australia and England have been on somewhat of a sporting collision course these past two months with the two nations squaring-off in an Autumn Rugby Union International as well as the Ashes cricket series. The two countries will go head-to-head in yet another sporting blockbuster when they face off in the Rugby League World Cup Final.

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Australia v England | Saturday 2 December | Brisbane | 10:00 (SAST)

To Win (80 Mins)
Australia 1/10 | Draw 18/1 | England 13/2
Australia (-17.5) 9/10 | England (+17.5) 9/10 *Please note that this is a forecast handicap

The Kangaroos have been a class apart this term and are the only unbeaten side in the tournament. While that's an impressive enough achievement itself, the manner in which the Aussies have racked up these wins has been astounding. The joint-tournament hosts are yet to concede more than six points in a match. They have also won five of their six fixtures by 30 points or more on their run to the final.

While the hosts do come into this one with a stellar record to their names, it must be noted that their narrowest winning margin came against this weekend's opponents in the opening round of the tournament. The fixture saw the Aussies beat England 18-4 but that scoreline was rather flattering with two late tries adding a lot of gloss to it.

In terms of recent form, the Kangaroos were all-conquering during the knock-out phase, beating Samoa 46-0 in their quarter-final fixture and then hammering Fiji 54-0 in their semi-final fixture. These results are rather ominous signs for the English, who will also have to put up with a partisan crowd this Saturday.

The men from the northern hemisphere certainly deserve a berth in the final, having been the second most consistent team behind the Australians. They bounced back well from their opening round defeat to this week's opposition by registering big wins over the French and Lebanese in their remaining two Round Robin fixtures.

Wayne Bennet's men then got their knock-out phase off to a flying start as they saw off a dangerous Papua New Guinea 36-3 in their quarter-final.

Bennet's boys also started their semi-final against Tonga like a house on fire and looked to be home and hosed at 20-0 up with only ten minutes to play. A late Tongan revival would see the game come down to the wire, with the English lucky to snatch a win as it looked like Tongan hardman, Andrew Fifita, had the ball stripped out of his hands rather than committing a knock-on on his way to the try line.

Had the match officials gone upstairs, Fifita may well have been awarded a last-minute try which would have completed one of the most dramatic comebacks in sports history and sent the English packing in the process. Instead, the officials ignored the Tongan players' pleas and called the game with the score 18-20 in favour of England.

Verdict: Australia 1/10
Home ground advantage, as well as superior fitness levels, will see the tournament co-hosts lift the Paul Barrière Trophy in front of a jubilant Brisbane crowd this coming Saturday. There may not be huge value on the straight win but it's the 'Rugby Banker' of the weekend.

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