The Rugby League World Cup Final – Will the Trophy Go to England or Australia?

Last weekend, England’s rugby league stars won a place in a World Cup final for the first time in 22 years. Tomorrow, they’ll take on Australia, at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, in what’s likely to be a hard-fought battle for the trophy. So how did each team make it to the final and can England steal the silverware in front of their rivals’ home crowd?

England’s Journey to the Final – Conquests, Concerns and a Controversial Call

England’s first Group A match, against the Kangaroos, was never going to be easy, but it was ultimately a close one. Just six points lay between the sides going into the final five minutes, but Australia sealed an 18-4 victory in the end.

Their next match, against Lebanon, ended on a happier note for England’s players and fans. Despite some poor discipline and handling errors, England won the match by 29-10. They went on to claim a place in the quarter-finals by defeating France by 36-6.

England took on Papua New Guinea next, at Melbourne’s AAMI Park. They triumphed by 36-6, securing a semi-final clash with Tonga, but their low completion rate and high number of handling errors were causes for concern.

They then travelled to New Zealand, for what turned out to be a controversial match. Unfortunately for the Tongans, a try from Andrew Fifita in the dying seconds of the game was disallowed without being referred to the video referee, and England kept their dreams of claiming the stunning rugby trophy alive.

The 2017 Rugby League World Cup – Australia’s Record-Breaking Route to the Final

Unlike England, the Kangaroos reached the final without losing a match. Having dispatched the English in their opening tie, the home team went on to beat France by 52-6.

Australia’s final group match was against Lebanon. Although the home team made some early errors, Lebanon failed to capitalise on the opportunities they had, and the Aussies won by 34-0.

The Kangaroos breezed through their semi-final against Samoa, trouncing their opponents by 46-0. Valentine Holmes made history in the process, becoming the first player to score five tries in a single World Cup match.

He wasn’t satisfied with that, however, and went on to break his own record by scoring six tries in their semi-final against Fiji. Dane Gagai and Billy Slater scored two tries apiece, while Cameron Smith added seven goals to the Aussies’ tally.

England vs Australia – Which Team Will Win the Tournament?

With history in their favour and the home crowd on their side, the Kangaroos are surely the most likely team to win. They’ve won the title ten times, while England have only triumphed on three occasions, the last of which was way back in 1972. The fact that Australia won when the teams met at the beginning of the tournament could also give them the psychological edge.

England’s head coach, Wayne Bennett, didn’t seem to be exuding confidence when asked if his lads would be able to win. According to The Guardian, Bennett replied “Probably not. But we’ll still go to the game”.

If Wade Graham’s response to that is anything to go by, however, the Australians aren’t taking anything for granted. The Aussie lock told the BBC that Bennett would “have a plan in place”, adding that “he’s the game’s most accomplished coach ever”.

Will you be watching the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final? Do you think England can defeat the Aussies? Leave a comment below.