Four Nations: Last gasp controversy causes England heartbreak
England, now 10/1 to win the Four Nations with Coral, rocked the Aussies and were a breath away from knocking them out of the tournament, if not for a try controversially ruled out in the last second of the game.
Leeds winger Ryan Hall, who had been largely impressive, was already on the scoresheet putting England into a first-half 10-4 lead, after Kallum Watkins cancelled out a try from Michael Jenning.
England played possibly some of the best rugby of the tournament so far, with Sam Tomkins pulling the strings from full back. It is perhaps testament to the amount of talent in this side, who looked like the hosts. Gareth Widdop was exceptional, Hall was his powerful self, Super League Man of Steel Daryl Clark was irrepressible.
With England 12-4 up as they came out for the second half and had chances to extend their lead, though were unlucky with brave passes that didn’t quite come off. Steve McNamara’s side were gutsy, but showed inexperience. You cannot switch off at any point against world champions Australia, and England paid the price.
With the best full back and number nine on the planet in your side, in Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith, you expect to be able to stay within touching distance and the Aussies ramped it up a gear. The former initiated a try for Ben Hunt that took Australia to within two points of the lead, before going over himself, with the hosts setting up camp in England’s half.
As the game drew to a close, England pushed forward for one last surge. One the sixth tackle, Hall chased down a lost cause after Liam Farrell sent a grubber kick into the Aussie in-goal area. After an agonising wait for the video referee to decide whether Hall had grounded the ball before Inglis, it was ruled out after the decision was that Hall didn’t get downward pressure on it.
The 16-12 result means that England now have to beat New Zealand by 10 points in their next match to guarantee themselves of a place in the final, after the Kiwis narrowly edged out Samoa 14-12.