The Australian Kangaroos are the 2017 Rugby League World Cup champions after narrowly edging out rivals England 6-0 in a physical and tense encounter.
No points were scored following Boyd Cordner’s 15th minute try as England threw everything they had at the Australians but failed to find a way through the green and gold defensive line as the Kangaroos won their second straight World Cup title.
In front of a packed house at Brisbane stadium, Australia put together another clinical performance from the opening whistle to lift the Paul Barrière trophy for the first time in 40 years on Australian soil.
As Australia kicked off to get the much anticipated clash underway, the physicality of the bout was evident from the first hit up as English forward James Graham, got up bleeding from the head after returning the kick off.
And as Graham’s head was cleaned up, Australia would also draw first blood on the scoreboard following repeated raids on the English goal line.
15 minutes into the match, Australia enjoyed four sets back-to-back in the English half, probing the determined defence before backrower Boyd Cordner finally found a way through.
Shifting the ball across the field, Michael Morgan gave the ball to Cordner who was steaming past the shoulder of the five-eighth to crash over the line for the opening points of the final.
Following Smiths successful conversion, Australia laid claim to a 6-0 advantage as the match once again fell back into an arm wrestle.
Despite completing 92% of their sets in the opening stanza and holding the ball almost twice as much as the English, Australia failed to find any more points in the half as England’s hard-hitting defence proved too good for the normally dominant Australian attack.
As the half-time siren was about to sound to bring the first half to an end, Australia had one last chance at points opting to shoot for a field goal off a scrum for it only to be charged down before the players returned to the dressing rooms.
As the final 40 minutes of the 2017 World Cup got underway, the match started much the same as the first with a bone-rattling hit up off the kick-off as both teams tried to gain the upper hand.
Australia once again enjoyed the bulk of possession but still had no answers to England’s desperate scrambling defence despite being denied a four-pointer in the 46th minute due to obstruction.
With just six points on the scoreboard after 65 minutes of play, the match was still up in the air as England started to create some chances and test Australia’s defence.
But as it had been all tournament, the clinical defence of the Kangaroos held off England’s efforts despite some close calls, setting up a tense final 10 minutes.
But England couldn’t break through the brick wall defence of Australia as the full-time siren sounded to crown Australia the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Champions, finishing winners in a tight game 6-0.
James Coman | @JamesComan1
Rugby League World Cup 2017 Reporter