Friday 7th July, 6.45pm, St Mary’s Stadium, Sydney
Student Rugby League World Cup
In a match played with an intensity expected of the Cup’s two glamour teams, the speed of the Australians’ play at the ruck and with ball in hand – along with the rub of the green at times from referee Darian Furner – proved too much for the Englishmen to handle.
Australia dominated early field position and possession before finally in the 16th minute, Australian centre Mick O’Keefe burst through three defenders down the right hand side to score the opening try of the night. He duly converted for a 6-nil lead.
After English winger Jason Bass had a try disallowed by referee Darian Furner for putting a foot into touch diving for the left corner, Australia extended their lead in the 24th minute when interchange back Kelly Benson beat a tackle before outpacing English fullback Jacob Morgan to score near the uprights. O’Keefe converted for a 12-nil lead.
Australia scored the most spectacular try of the night five minutes later when Sam Gee burst clear up the centre from a short pass before he produced a deft inside grubber kick off his instep for Ryan Cameron to gather and send the final pass to Jack Peoples to score behind the posts for an 18-nil lead.
The speed of Australia’s play was starting to tell as Anderson made a long break down the right six minutes from half time, before wrapping around Jarrod Lee in support to score a superb long range try and a 24-nil lead.
Australia then shifted play down the left hand blind side in the last minute of the first half to send winger David Sheridan away for a 55 metre dash to score for a remarkable 30-nil Australian lead at the break.
Any hope of an English comeback was dashed in Australia’s first attack of the second half when a Cameron grubber kick in behind the nonplussed defence was easily picked up by Sheridan who raced 20 metres for his second try and a 36-nil lead.
After what appeared to be an Australian knock on in the 55th minute was ruled otherwise by referee Furner, the repeat possession saw Australian fullback Savern Rapana barge over through four defenders from close range to score for a 42-nil lead.
To their credit, England did not throw the towel in and on the back of three successive penalties with 15 minutes to play, worked field position down the right for James Mason to score in the 64th minute and Zack McComb to score in the 72nd minute to get back to 42-10 with James Woodburn-Hall’s touchline conversion.
Australia were not done yet for the night – with another Anderson brake sending Lee away to score three minutes from time, before Savern Rapana bagged his second try in the last minute to bring up the Australian half century of points.
England Universities: Jacob Morgan, Nathan Hill, Zack McComb, Brad Kislingbury, Jason Bass, Kieran Smith, James Woodburn-Hall, Matt Ross, Jake Reed, Aaron Hall, Dom Bryan, Marcus Stock, Jack Lazenby. Subs: Josh Halstead, Harry Kidd, Sam Druce, James Mason
Tries: James Mason (64), Zack McComb (72)
Goals: Sam Druce 0/1, James Woodburn-Hall 1/1.
Australia Universities: Savern Rapana, David Sherdian, Mike Pearsell, Mick O’Keefe, Jamie Anderson, Ryan Cameron, Jarrod Lee, Sam Gee, Chris Ostwald, Giovanni Rapana, David Fauonuku, Harry Pondevas, Jack Peoples. Subs: Kelly Benson, Iszak Taali, Myles Fowler, Jordan Mose
Tries: Mick O’Keefe (16), Kelly Benson (24), Jack Peoples (29), Jarrod Lee (34), David Sheridan (39, 42), Savern Rapana (55, 79), Jamie Anderson (77),
Goals: Mick O’Keefe 9/9