England suffer agonising 16-12 defeat to Australia

England suffered a controversial 16-12  defeat against Australia in Melbourne today in their second game of this season’s Four Nations tournament, as Australian video-referee Gerald Sutton disallowed a last-minute try by Ryan Hall when video replays appeared to suggest that Hall had touched the ball down after a Liam Farrell grubber kick to the corner.

If the try had been awarded, the scores would have been levelled with the conversion to come, and the Australians could have been out of the tournament.

As it is, England now need to beat New Zealand by ten or more points in Dunedin on Saturday to be sure of reaching the Four Nations Final in Wellington the following week.

The English had taken a 12-4 lead at half-time, imposing themselves on the Australians after the Aussies had opened the scoring on 16 minutes with a try from Michael Jennings, with Cameron Smith missing an easy conversion attempt.

After that early score, England dominated the rest of the half.

Kallum Watkins opened England’s account after 28 minutes after a great passing movement to the right, and Ryan Hall scored five minutes later from a superb flick pass by Dan Sarginson, with Gareth Widdop converting both tries.

And England could have extended their lead just before the interval after a great Sam Tomkins break, but Daryl Clark’s final pass went to ground.

In the second half Australian coach Tim Sheens made a crucial substitution when Brisbane’s Ben Hunt came on for Sam Thaiday, and almost immediately touched down Cameron Smith’s clever kick to the line. Smith’s conversion reduced the deficit to two points.

And the Aussies took the lead after 63 minutes when Greg Inglis backed up a Daly Cherry-Evans break, with Smith again converting to complete the scoring.

But, after the controversial decision to appoint Australian officials to the game, there will surely be some questions asked about why the try scored by Hall at the end wasn’t awarded.

A full report, comment, analysis and photographs for this game will appear in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express.