Four tries in a devastating 18 minute spell either side of half time saw Australia hold off a spirited England on the opening day of the tournament.
England opened the scoring after seven minutes when Australia’s James Tamou was penalised for a high shot. They opted for the kick to touch and from the resulting tap; the ball was moved smartly from right to left which enabled Ryan Hall to go over in the corner. Sinfield missed the conversion to leave the score to leave them 4-0ahead.
It looked as though they had extended their lead soon after George Burgess barged his way over the line but the video referee adjudged that the England player had lost the ball touching down.
However, England four minutes later the video referee was called into action once again when a kick through by Sinfield was not picked up by Australia’s Brett Morris and it allowed Leroy Cudjoe to gather the ball and touch down. Sinfield added the extras to put his side 10-0 ahead.
But after 26 minutes Australia got their first points on the board when Cooper Cronk put up a towering bomb and Greg Inglis beat England’s Sam Tomkins to the ball and then passed the ball back inside for Jonathan Thurston to go over. The stand-off converted his own try to cut the deficit to four points.
As the half was drawing to a close, England conceded successive penalties to give Australia good field position. They made the most of it with Smith and Thurston linking up to put Greg Bird through a gap between two defenders for another try. Thurston added the extras to put Australia 12-10 ahead.
With just seconds of the half remaining they increased their lead when the referee ruled a pass by Sam Burgess pass to be forward. From the resulting scrum the ball was moved smartly to Billy Slater who dummied two defenders before sprinting to the line. Thurston made it 18-10 with the conversion as the teams went in at half time.
Australia were quickest out of the blocks in the second half, Cameron Smith kicking a 40-20 despite a great effort from Josh Charnley to keep the ball in play. From the scrum the ball was passed smartly down the line to enable Brett Morris to go over in the corner to make it 22-10.
England fought their way back into the game after 52 minutes after Australia had conceded back to back penalties. The ball was fed to George Burgess who made no mistake this time when he powered his way over, Sinfield’s conversion reducing the arrears to six points.
Going into the final quarter Australia extended their lead with a penalty from Thurston to make it 24-16 and they effectively killed the game off with another try. England conceded a penalty around the play the ball and Australia took full advantage with some slick handling putting Darius Boyd diving over in the corner.
England set up a tense finish when Josh Charnley snapped up a lose pass from Slater and ran unopposed to the line. Sinfield couldn’t convert and Australia held onto to their 28-20 lead until the final whistle to register the first win of this tournament.
Tries: Thurston, Bird, Slater, Morris, Boyd
Goals: Thurston 4/6
Tries: Hall, Cudjoe, G.Burgess, Charnley
Goals: Sinfield 2/4