Kangaroos edge out England to retain Rugby League World Cup

Updated: 

Boyd Cordner's first-half try proved decisive as Australia battled to a 6-0 victory over England in Brisbane to win the Rugby League World Cup for the 11th time.

The Kangaroos came into Saturday's final as overwhelming favourites to retain their title, but were pushed all the way in a hugely physical encounter.

An England side missing skipper Sean O'Loughlin and Josh Hodgson fought tirelessly in their first final since 1995 and were still in with a chance of pulling off an upset as the hooter approached.

Yet Australia ultimately prevailed in the lowest scoring final in history and it remains 11 years since they lost to England or Great Britain. The Kangaroos have now won eight of the last nine World Cups and remain rugby league's undoubted kings.

England started solidly enough, but came under sustained pressure after Luke Gale was penalised for a high shot on Cameron Smith.

Another penalty went against England in between Cooper Cronk forcing two drop-outs and Australia's fourth set in succession ended with Cordner powering over for the game's only try from Michael Morgan's short pass.

Despite that score, converted by Smith, Australia certainly did not have it easy for the remainder of an opening half high on intensity.

Yet Mal Meninga's men, whose completion rate was typically impressive, held on to their lead, with England displaying a lack of cutting edge on the few occasions they threatened their opponents' try-line.

Australia were initially on top after the interval, as the game opened up with players from both sides understandably showing signs of fatigue, and Morgan saw a score chalked off by the video referee due to obstruction from Smith in the build-up.

However, England dug deep to stay in the contest and the outcome was still in the balance when Josh Dugan produced a superb ankle tap to halt a breakaway from Kallum Watkins with 15 minutes remaining.

Valentine Holmes - the scorer of a remarkable 11 tries in Australia's last two matches - looked set to surge clear for a match-clinching score, only to spill the ball as he intercepted a floated pass from Gareth Widdop.

A knock-on from Will Chambers in the 78th minute then gave England one last chance, but they simply could not breach the Kangaroos line.