Kangaroos take advantage of English mishaps and mistakes

Australia 34 England 14

England effectively ended their Four Nations challenge with an error-strewn performance in an undistinguished game here yesterday. Australia did not even have to play particularly well to win by 20 clear points and book their place in the final in two weeks; they simply had to accept most of the invitations offered.

England, admittedly, played with more energy than they had done in that insipid first half against New Zealand last week. Their forwards were at least the match of the Kangaroos, with Sam Burgess and the captain, James Graham, particularly strong at prop. When they enjoyed some possession they often looked capable of breaking down an Australian defence that was a long way from its best.

But glaring individual errors undid them and again underlined the deficiencies in the British game – notably, that there are just not enough players whose skills stand up to examination under pressure at the highest level.

Two early penalties, the second for Ryan Atkins saving his line by tackling his man without the ball, set the scene for Australia's opening try, scored by Luke Lewis running off the shoulder of Cooper Cronk. It was encouraging, though, that England hit straight back.

Sam Thaiday was penalised for holding down Darrell Goulding and the field position was exploited by James Roby's excellent crisp pass from dummy-half to send Burgess, the NRL's favourite Pom, through a gap to touch down. "I thought we started off pretty strongly, but we made too many mistakes after that," Burgess said.

England even led for a short while, after Ben Westwood slotted over a penalty to go with his conversion, but it was all downhill from there.

Goulding lost the ball returning a kick and Australia got the first of the debatable decisions that went in their favour. Darren Lockyer's kick seemed to have shaved Cronk's hand and gone forward before Lewis touched down, but the Australian video referee, Steven Clark, ruled a try. "We could all see it on the field, so I don't know how he couldn't," was Burgess's assessment.

Roby was the next to surrender possession, an error compounded when Tom Briscoe misjudged Lockyer's kick to the wing and Billy Slater pounced.

The game was galloping away from England now, all the more so when Atkins lost the ball and Brent Tate was ruled to have scored in the corner, despite a dubious-looking grounding. "We got some tough calls, but I don't think they changed the result," Burgess said. "You have to rise above them."

Lewis could have had his hat-trick, but unselfishly passed to Willie Tonga for the fifth Australian try, to emphasise the ease with which they were scoring and their half-time superiority.

With the rain lashing down on the half-empty AAMI Park stadium, the game deteriorated badly in a technical sense in the second half, with both coaches blaming the Australian referee for allowing the play-the-ball to be slowed down by lying-on in the tackle.

England were at least first on the scoreboard after the break, thanks to Luke Robinson's electric burst from dummy-half. "It was nice to score my first try for my country, but I wish the circumstances could have been a bit different, so I could have celebrated it a bit more," said Robinson, who like his half-back partner, Sean O'Loughlin, and Sam Tomkins, switched to full-back, struggled to get into the match as an attacking force.

The whole of the threequarter line simply looked not good enough to compete at this level, although the England coach, Steve McNamara, pointed to the average age of the squad at 24 and insisted: "We were very dominant physically and our forwards battered them at various stages of the game."

There was a question mark about the final Aussie try, Lewis's pass to Slater looking clearly forward before Lote Tuqiri got the touchdown. For some unenterprising reason, Australia chose to kick for goal when they got a penalty after that, giving Cameron Smith his fifth success.

Australia, without greatly impressing their coach, Tim Sheens, won with plenty to spare. "It's difficult for England out here with nothing like their best side," he said. "They need to have their best squad available."

Sheens warned that there would be changes for next week's dress rehearsal for the final against New Zealand, because too many of his players had underperformed for his liking.

"England made a couple of fundamentals and gave us field position," he said. "And when you do that, we generally hurt you.

"But I'm concerned by the way they walked through us in the middle. New Zealand would be licking their lips at that.

"There will be some changes, because some players didn't play well enough," Sheens added.

That puts England's limitations into unflattering perspective. They must now find the enthusiasm to prepare for the Battle of the Also-Rans, against Papua New Guinea in Auckland on Saturday.

Australia Slater; Morris, Tate, Tonga, Tuqiri; Lockyer, Cronk; Miles, Smith, Civoniceva, Lewis, Thaiday, Gallen. Substitutes used Shillington, Learoyd-Lahrs, Watmough, Gidley.

England S Tomkins; Goulding, Cudjoe, Atkins, Briscoe; O'Loughlin, Robinson; Burgess, Roby, Graham, Ellis, J Tomkins, Westwood. Substitutes used Crabtree, Fielden, Lunt, Harrison.

Referee T Archer (Australia).

* New Zealand made sure of a place in the Four Nations final with a 76-12 victory over Papua New Guinea in Rotorua on Saturday. Junior Sa'u and Sam Perrett, the replacement for the injured Manu Vatuvei, both scored hat-tricks, while Sheffield's Menzie Yere scored one of PNG's two tries.

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links