Gillett (23), Slater (29), Dugan (79)
A 79th minute try to Josh Dugan saw Australia survive a scare from England, going home winners 18-4 in a thrilling opening to the World Cup.
An injury to Sam Burgess in the first half made the task harder for the English side who took Australia all the way to end despite spending limited time in Australia’s half.
It was England who opened the scoring after just four minutes for England when Jermaine McGillvary crossed over in the corner. Capitalizing on their first possession of the game, England shifted the ball across Australia’s line before a Gareth Widdop cut out pass fell into McGillvary’s hands who put the ball down untouched.
Following Widdops unsuccessful conversion, the traffic was all the way of the Australians who launched repeated raids on England’s line. But it wasn’t until the 22nd minute when Australia finally broke through England’s tough goal line defence and recorded their first try of the tournament. After a Cameron Smith pass, Matt Gillett stepped back on the inside of the English defence before burrowing under Jonny Lomax for the try. Cameron Smith then added the extras to bring the scores to 6-4.
With not much to split the two teams with half time quickly approaching, England was dealt a massive blow with star forward Sam Burgess leaving the field due to a knee injury.
But with 10 minutes left in the first half, Australia made the most of some good field possession an extended their lead to a converted try thanks to Billy Slater.
Both teams entered half time with the game still very much in the balance with Australia holding onto a slim 10-4 lead.
Following play getting back underway, the match fell into an arm wrestle as both teams struggled to get the upper hand. England’s forwards started to gain momentum despite Burgess on the sidelines as they shifted the ball sideways trying to find ways around Australia’s defence.
But an uncharacteristic mistake from Billy Slater in the 65th minute gifted England with their best chance of the second half, before a Josh Hodgson grubber failed to find an English player as the match moved into the final 10 minutes.
The decisive blow came in the 75th minute when Wade Graham drew a penalty 30 meters out from England’s goal line. Cameron smith guided the ball over the black dot to give Australia a 12-4 advantage with the full-time siren looming.
Then with three minutes still to play, a loose English kick was picked up my Josh Dugan who ran 80 meters untouched to put the game beyond doubt and start Australia’s World Cup campaign with a win.
Slater, Gagai, Chambers, Dugan, Holmes, Morgan, Cronk, Woods, Smith, Klemmer, Cordner, Gillett, Trbojevic, Graham, McLean, McGuire, Frizell
Lomax, McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall, Widdop, Gale, Hill, Hodgson, Graham, Whitehead, S. Burgess, O'Loughlin, Currie, Heighington, T. Burgess, Roby