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Rugby World Cup: Aussies beat England in opener

Rugby League World Cup: Australia 18-4 England

Match Report

The Kangaroos recovered from an early setback to get Australia’s title defense off to winning start. England opened the scoring but were cut short as the Rugby World Cup tournament kicked off with a memorable match. In a heartbreaking finish, the England national rugby team suffered their 12th consecutive loss to defending champions Australia in the close opening game of the World Cup in Melbourne. With just 5 minutes remaining in the clash, only 6 points separated the titan sides. Australia’s Cameron Smith scored a crucial penalty after 75 minutes to extend the Kangaroos lead beyond a converted try and, with England pushing forward, Josh Dugan scored an 80-metre interception try a minute from the end. The exciting opener was a thrilling way to mark the beginning of the 36-day tournament, consisting of 28 games in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. England were knocked out by New Zealand in the semi-finals of the previous World Cup in 2013.

England winger Jermaine McGillvary opened the match scoring by collecting Gareth Widdop's high pass to touch down in the corner after four minutes. England's defence held an unrelenting Australia for the opening 24 minutes, but then fell to Kangaroos forward Matt Gillett's powerful run and finish before full-back Billy Slater pushed over. Wayne Bennett's side posed more of an attacking threat in the second half, however a handling error from Jonny Lomax late in the half was costly and Ryan Hall was stopped close to the try-line. England prop Sam Burgess went off in the first half with a knee injury, and assistant coach Denis Betts said the South Sydney Rabbitoh player will be out until the semi-finals. Before the start, Australia performed a war-cry similar to New Zealand's Haka before kick-off, but McGillvary shocked the crowd with an early try.

Australia hit back through Gillett and Slater. The first half featured McGillvary's try and ended with England putting pressure on to hold Australia's from scoring, Bennett's England continued to get stronger against Australia in the second half. With hookers James Roby and Josh Hodgson on the field at the same time, England was tough to get past. But England made more tackles and handling errors than Australia. "That was a massive improvement on the Four Nations performance," said McGillvary after the match referring to England's 36-18 defeat by Australia at London Stadium in 2016,. "This World Cup is a journey and we have a lot to build on. At half-time Wayne Bennett was saying that we were beating ourselves, throwing the ball when it wasn't needed and trying to push it when we didn't need to."

Even without star half-back Johnathan Thurston, Australia coach Mal Meninga extended his winning run to eight games since taking charge. Melbourne Storm trio of Slater, Smith and Cooper Cronk were key to the victory. The game had only 3 penalties, the last harshly given against England's Elliott Whitehead for stripping the ball away, allowing Smith to convert for a two-score lead. The test was hard for both sides in Group A and victory for Australia probably ensures they will finish top. The Kangaroos are now likely to play a semi-final in Brisbane rather than face a tough and lengthy trip to New Zealand. The top three of the four teams in the group, which also features France and Lebanon, will qualify for the quarter-finals. “I was very buoyed by the second half - we were great. The scoreline does not justify the performance. England were very good down the right side,” said the England coach after the loss. “England have got to play - that second half showed us what the strengths are in the Super League. We offload the ball, ask questions and move the ball side to side. The NRL game is very different. We need to play to our strengths.That second half is exactly where we need to be. If we try to beat Australia set-to-set in an arm wrestle game we will lose.”

Next, England will go head to head with Lebanon, the lowest ranked team in the Rugby World Cup tournament, on Saturday, 4 November (09:00 GMT), while Australia meet France on Friday, 3 November (09:00). On Saturday, Wales face Papua New Guinea (06:00 BST), New Zealand take on Samao (08:10) and Fiji play United States (10:40).

Stats
Australia (10) 18
Tries: Gillett, Slater, Dugan
Goals: Smith 3
England (4) 4
Tries: McGillvary

Rugby World Cup England v Australia Squads

England
Lomax; McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall; Widdop, Gale; Hill, Hodgson, Graham, Whitehead, S. Burgess, O'Loughlin (capt). Interchanges: Currie, Heighington, T. Burgess, Roby.

Australia
Slater; Gagai, Chambers, Dugan, Holmes; Morgan, Cronk; Woods, Smith (capt), Klemmer, Cordner, Gillett, Trbojevic.
Interchanges: Graham, McLean, McGuire, Frizell.

Autumn Internationals Update

England Squad News
Reportedly England Rugby wing Marland Yarde is planning a mid-season move from Harlequins to Premiership rivals Sale nest week. After being dropped trom Harlequins squad for the Champions Cup game versus Wasps for missing training, Yarde is understood to have been disgrunteled at Quins when he was also left out of Harlequins' squad to face Worcester in the Premiership on Saturday. Yarde is expected to make the move only two months into the current season. Yarde's move may set a precedent for rugby union, since in the past it was very unusual for a high-profile star rugby player to change between two Premiership clubs during a season. Yarde will play alongside Solomona and Australia international James O'Connor, the pair having previously been team-mates at London Irish in the 2013-2014 season.

Twenty-five-year-old Yarde who has 13 England caps, was also left out of Eddie Jones' autumn test squad on Thursday, with Sale's Denny Solomona selected instead. Teimana Harrison and Tom Wood are also among those left out. Veteran England flanker James Haskell is also left out of England’s 34-man squad for the Autumn Internationals. Wasps' Haskell, 32, has 75 international caps and is one of the highest-profile casualties. Exeter back-row Sam Simmonds has received his first England call-up. Sale wing Denny Solomona is named to the England rugby side with uncapped Marcus Smith and Zach Mercer picked as "apprentice players". Due to being suspended for the matches against the Pumas and Australia, prop Joe Marler was also left out. England will face Argentina on 11 November, before playing Australia and Samoa and will host the Wallabies at Twickenham on 18 November before their last Test against Samoa on 25 November. "I had a good chat to Haskell on Saturday, " said England head coach Jones. "At the moment he's just not playing well enough, but the door isn't shut to him. He's been a great servant to English rugby and I'm sure he can regain his form."

Next, Jones commented on the omission of Harlequins wing Yarde. "We had a look at Marland in regards to Denny Solomona. In terms of tries scored, the number Denny has scored is far superior. We want a try-scorer on our right wing." In fact Denny Solomona scored a try with his first touch in international rugby as England beat Argentina 38-34 last June. Solomona earned his first cap against Argentina in June, making the squad after being sent home from a training camp in August for disciplinary reasons. Denny scored 5 tries in the Premiership for the Sharks this season. England captain Dylan Hartley was included on Jones’ side for the Autumn Internationals after disciplinary action against him was dismissed. Two apprentice players, 18-year-old fly-half Smith and 20-year-old back-rower Mercer were selected by Jones after stellar performances this season for Harlequins and Bath respectively. The two will not be involved in England's match day squads but will take part in training and preparation for the three-match series. Bath hooker Tom Dunn is the remaining uncapped apprentice player in the squad.

Full England Squad for 2017 Autumn Tests
Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Piers Francis (Northampton Saints), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Marcus Smith (Harlequins) *, Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Forwards: Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) *, Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs).
*Uncapped apprentice players

Of note is that reportedly Wales and England forwards will train against each other for the first time ever before the Autumn Internationals. The idea for the one-off session has been scheduled for November 6th in Bristol, hatched during last summer's British and Irish Lions down under tour to New Zealand. England forwards coach Steve Borthwick was one of British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland's assistants for the series. "There will be a match of 12 large scrums and 15 line-outs," said England coach Eddie Jones. "We wanted Wayne Barnes (England) to referee but they asked for Nigel Owens (Wales) and we bowed to their wishes."

In the upcoming Autumn Internationals, Gatland's Wales host Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa on successive Saturdays beginning November 11, 2017. England go face to face against Argentina, Australia and Samoa at Twickenham on the same dates. "Everyone will rip into it and there will be physical stuff” said Jones. "It will be a good contest that has a bit of feeling in it and there is the risk of injuries, but we need to improve our scrummaging. The set-piece has gone from a penalty shootout to the best possession to break the line. We still want to scrum like England and gain penalties because that gives players confidence, but we want to be able to use the ball quickly because we have great backs." Buy the very best legal, authentic, rugby union tickets to watch your favorite rugby team in live action including tickets for the Autumn Internationals and Six Nations rugby union tournaments. Buy England rugby tickets and Australia rugby tickets now securely online from LiveRugbyTickets.co.uk – now at great prices!

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