Rugby League World Cup Nines: England beaten in semi-final; Australia win inaugural tournament

Australia celebrate winning the inaugural World Cup Nines
Australia celebrate winning the inaugural World Cup Nines

England failed to make the most of their good fortune as they bowed out at the semi-final stage of the inaugural World Cup Nines, which was won by Australia.

Wayne Bennett's men had reached the last four thanks to a helping hand from Wales amid a slice of controversy when Lebanon were docked points for fielding an ineligible player.

But their hopes of silverware were ended by New Zealand, who cantered to a 22-6 win at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium.

England began the tournament with an impressive victory over Wales on the opening day but were heading for an early exit after suffering a shock 16-13 defeat to Lebanon in their second match on day two.

However, Wales came to their rescue by defeating the Lebanese 25-14 to gain their first win of the competition and England bounced back with a 38-4 rout of France to clinch top spot in Pool B.

Then came news that Lebanon had been stripped of the points they accrued from their opening win over the French for playing an under-age Jacob Kiraz.

Lebanon coach Rick Stone, who said he was unaware of changes to the minimum-age rule, was forced to leave out both Kiraz and fellow youngster Jordan Samrani for the rest of the tournament but the Cedars still managed to get over the top of England.

Acting captain Gareth Widdop and Sam Tomkins scored tries for an out-played England, who were then forced to watch as their fate was determined by Wales.

John Kear's men had earlier suffered a 23-6 defeat by France, Regan Grace scoring their only try, but they were energised against Lebanon and dominated the game from start to finish.

Mike Butt opened the scoring and captain Elliot Kear touched down either side of half-time to put Wales in control before Lloyd White wrapped up a convincing win with their fourth try.

That enabled Wales to finish the tournament on a high and the result clearly lifted England's spirits for the decider against France, although they fell behind early to a try from Alrix Da Costa.

Ryan Hall, Blake Austin and Ash Handley scored to give England a 17-4 interval lead and the latter added another in the second half, with Ryan Sutton and Elliott Whitehead also touching down in a one-sided contest.

In the semi-final, the turning point came early on when winger Jermaine McGillvary was hauled down short of the line after a 70-metre break and the Kiwis struck on the counter-attack through Ken Maumalo.

There was no way back for England when Jamayne Isaako and Reimis Smith added further tries either side of half-time and, although McGillvary collected George Williams' kick to grab a consolation try, Isaako wrapped up the scoring with his second try.

"We made it hard for ourselves early in the tournament but we got into the finals," said half-back Austin.

"We would have liked to have done a bit better but we move on to Great Britain."

Australia, who beat Samoa 25-8 in the semi-finals, went on to become the first winners thanks largely to a hat-trick of tries from Mitchell Moses in a 24-10 triumph over the Kiwis.

England's women were outclassed on the second day as New Zealand went on to beat Australia 17-15 in the final.

Georgia Wilson scored England's only try in a 42-4 defeat by the Jillaroos while Amy Hardcastle was on the mark in a 33-4 loss to the Kiwi Ferns.

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