2017 Rugby League World Cup Final - Australia vs England Preview

The Lowdown

AUSTRALIA

  • Australia were in devastating form as they crushed Fiji 54-6 in their World Cup semi-final. That result meant Australia extended their record of having conceded no more than six points in their last 10 World Cup matches.
  • Valentine Holmes made yet more history in the semi-final. Having become the first man to score five tries in a World Cup game in the quarter-final, he went one better to score a double hat-trick against Fiji which took his tally to 11 tries in his last two games.
  • Mal Meninga has stuck with the same side that comfortably overcame their opponents in the quarter-final and semi-final as the Australians look to become back-to-back world champions.

Head Coach: Mal Meninga

Team: Slater; Gagai, Chambers, Dugan, Holmes; Morgan, Cronk; Woods, Smith, Klemmer, Cordner, Gillett, McGuire

Bench: Graham, McLean, Campbell-Gillard, Frizell

ENGLAND

  • England had to hold off a fierce Tonga fightback as they narrowly clung on for a two-point victory to qualify for their first World Cup final in 22 years.
  • Having been 20-0 up with just seven minutes left, England needed a controversial call on the final play of the match to prevent Tonga sealing their comeback having got the score back to 20-18.
  • Wayne Bennett is forced into one change with Josh Hodgson cruelly ruled out having suffered a torn ACL in last week's semi-final. James Roby replaces him in the team berth whilst Australian-born Chris Heighington is the new name in the 17.

Head Coach: Wayne Bennett

Team: Widdop; McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall; Brown, Gale; Hill, Roby, Graham, S. Burgess, Whitehead, O'Loughlin

Bench: Walmsley, T. Burgess, Currie, Heighington

Analysis - what to expect
England meet the old enemy Australia in the Rugby League World Cup final with a chance to make history. It is 22 long years since the English made it to the final and now they have the chance to claim the trophy for the first time. They have a huge task on their hands if they are to achieve that with Australia looking imperious. The Aussies' defensive record is one to behold but they are also capable of racking up plenty of points with the ball in hand. They have scored a minimum of 34 points in nine of their last 10 World Cup games with the opening group game against England in this year's tournament the last time they failed to hit that mark. England have improved as the tournament has progressed but this should be a step too far. They fell to an 18-4 defeat in the first game of the competition but this margin could be even greater if Australia continue to be as clinical in both attack and defence.