The 2016 Four Nations Rugby League tournament is set to end with a battle between old rivals in Liverpool on Sunday, as Australia takes on New Zealand at Anfield. So how did these teams reach the Four Nations final – and which of them will raise the trophy aloft?
The Four Nations Final – Can Australia Inflict More Misery on New Zealand?
The current World Champions started off their title campaign in style, with a decisive win over Scotland
at Hull’s Lightstream Stadium. The Kangaroos put on a display of dominance in the first half, and with just over 30 minutes of the game gone, had established a 30 – 0 lead. The Bravehearts fought back, but it was too little, too late, and the Kangaroos won by 54 -12.
In the second round, the Aussies faced the team they’ll take on in the final. The Kangaroos had defeated the Kiwis by 26 – 6 in the run-up to the tournament, so David Kidwell’s men were keen to stop them from triumphing again. Australia started strongly, but during the second half, the Kiwis got ahead. Johnathan Thurston scored two penalties to get the Kangaroos back on track, but New Zealand weren’t done yet. They almost seized the victory with a last minute attempt from Shaun Johnson but he failed to ground the ball, resulting in a 14 – 8 win for Australia
Round three saw the Kangaroos take on the host nation, England, at the London Stadium. Despite a Jermaine McGillvary try putting England into the lead half an hour into the match, the Aussies took control and triumphed by 36 -18
With three impressive tournament victories so far, the Australians will be fired up for the final, and confident in their ability to succeed. Their determination to win the tie will also be boosted by the knowledge that, should they beat the Kiwis, who are the current title holders, they’ll not only steal the famous rugby trophy
from them, they’ll also replace them as the world’s highest ranked team.
The 2016 Rugby League Four Nations – Can New Zealand Defend Their Title?
The Kiwis’ path to the Four Nations final began with them defeating England by 17 – 16 in Huddersfield
. Although the home team initially looked dominant, New Zealand fought back to get ahead before the end of the first half. England continued to battle in the second half, and the teams were level going into the last quarter of an hour. With just fourteen minutes left, however, Shaun Johnson secured the win for the Kiwis with a drop goal that took their points haul to 17, one more than the Lions.
Following their second round defeat by the Kangaroos, the Kiwis took on Scotland at Workington’s Zebra Claims Stadium. New Zealand, the obvious favourites, initially established a 6 – 0 lead, but the Bravehearts held their nerve and, with just six minutes to go, Danny Brough kicked a penalty to give Scotland the lead. Two tries from Gerard Beale handed the game back to the Kiwis, but Brough then converted a Euan Aitken try to bring the points level at 18 – 18
before the whistle blew.
The Kiwis will be desperate to successfully defend their title in the final, but their performances so far haven’t been as convincing as those of the Kangaroos. So can they hang on to the trophy and their world number one ranking, or will the Australians defeat them yet again?
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