Australia grind out tough RugbyL World Cup final win
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Brisbane (Australia) (AFP)
Australia won the 2017 Rugby League World Cup when they ground out a tough 6-0 win over a gallant England in Brisbane on Saturday.
Boyd Cordner's first-half try ensured the Australians clinched the title for the 11th time in a low-scoring but enthralling final in front of 40,000 fans.
Australian captain Cameron Smith said afterwards the match ranked alongside any he had played.
"That was one of the toughest games I reckon I've played in my career," he said.
"The English were outstanding but our boys were really good. We sustained so much pressure from the English, but they couldn't score points."
The Kangaroos went into the match as firm favourites after going through the preliminary rounds largely untroubled.
And for large parts of the match they looked certain to overrun England, particularly in the first half and the opening 10 minutes of the second.
But the English were resolute in defence as they slowly came back into the final and could have upset the more fancied Australians if they had shown more composure in attack.
In a pulsating and at times brutal first half, the home side shaded both possession and territory, with much of the game played in England's half.
The two sides were evenly matched and neither was able to breach the strong defensive lines in the opening exchanges.
But on the 15 minute mark, the Australians spread the ball wide and second rower Boyd Cordner steamed onto a flat pass to crash over beside the posts.
Smith converted to make it 6-0 to the Kangaroos.
"They were very good -- they don't give you much defensively," Smith said.
"We just knew we had to stay patient."
England had few chances to threaten the Australian line in the opening 40 minutes, but when they did they appeared to panic and lost the ball early in the tackle count.
The Australians began to make some easy metres out wide towards the end of the half as the English began to tire.
They continued to dominate at the start of the second half and thought they had scored seven minutes after the restart when Michael Morgan darted over under the posts.
However, the television match official ruled there had been some obstruction in the lead-up and the try was disallowed.
England took advantage of the reprieve and enjoyed a good 20-minute spell, at last able to put the Australians under some sustained pressure.
They went close with 15 minutes to go when centre Kallum Watkins broke clear and made a run for the line, only to be brought down by a desperate Josh Dugan ankle tap.
Australia then had the chance to seal the match when Valentine Holmes took an intercept but the winger, who scored five tries in the semi-final win over Fiji, knocked the ball on with the line wide open.
As the clock wound down the increasingly desperate English threw everything at the Australians but the Kangaroos held firm to claim the World Cup.
© 2017 AFP