Four Nations: England denied late try as Australia win in Melbourne
Last Updated: 02/11/14 12:07pm
England were denied what they thought was a legitimate last-minute try as Australia got away with a 16-12 victory in their Four Nations clash in Melbourne.
Ryan Hall thought he had bagged a second try of the match with just 46 seconds left of a thrilling encounter, as the Leeds winger got his fingers on a Liam Farrell grubber kick as he dived for the ball with Greg Inglis.
Australian referee Gerard Sutton handed the decision onto his namesake Bernard, the video official, who ruled that Hall had failed to find downward pressure and moments later Australia were celebrating a face-saving victory in front of a 20,585 crowd at AAMI Park.
The Kangaroos were under immense pressure after losing heavily to New Zealand in their first Four Nations clash, and they were staring down the barrel of an early exit as they trailed 12-4 at half time.
Hall was in sensational form as England, wearing special jerseys to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Rorke's Drift Test, emulated the spirit of the 1914 team to leave Australia staring at back-to-back home defeats for the first time since 1970 and failure to reach a major final for the first time since 1954.
England responded well to Michael Jennings giving Australia a 17th minute lead, and they were the better side as Kallum Watkins and Hall crossed the whitewash for converted tries that put the visitors into a deserved lead.
Hall was the inspiration as he came up with a brilliant 50-metre break out of defence to create the position for Sam Tomkins to get Watkins over for his eighth try in 10 appearances before accepting Sarginson's wonderful one-handed pass to add to his record haul of 22 tries for his country.
Gareth Widdop, whose place kicking was so crucial in the win over Samoa, added both conversions to open up an eight-point advantage and it could have been more had lively replacement hooker Daryl Clark been able to make better use of a break from Tomkins just before the break.
England kind of went into their shell a bit in the second half and strayed away from their game plan, allowing Australia to get back into the game.
Widdop and Sarginson combined to bring down Inglis just short of the line but the game was blown wide open in the next play when debutant Ben Hunt grabbed a try two minutes after entering the action, touching down Smith's grubber kick on the last tackle.
This time Cameron Smith added the goal to cut the deficit to just two points and the Kangaroos were back in front six minutes later when Hunt and Smith combined to get Cherry-Evans into a hole and Inglis was on his inside to touch down for his 25th try for his country.
In a thrilling climax England were certain they’d at least drawn level when Hall dived onto a loose ball but with the decision going against them they were left to take a heart-breaking defeat.
The result leaves the Four Nations wide open with all four sides still in with a chance of making it through, with New Zealand leading on four points but knowing defeat to England followed by an Australia win over Samoa could still deny them a place in the final.
England now head to Dunedin to face the Kiwis next Saturday needing a win before casting an eye on Australia's game on Sunday when a win for Australia would take qualification all down to points difference.