Australia 16-14 New Zealand: Reigning champions edge thriller to reach Rugby League World Cup final

By Sports Desk November 11, 2022

Reigning champions Australia edged Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand 16-14 in a thrilling contest at Elland Road on Friday to reach the Rugby League World Cup final.

Australia trailed 14-10 at the interval in Leeds, but Cameron Murray crossed over for the only try in the second half and the Kangaroos held on for a nervy victory.

New Zealand entered the tournament as top seeds and lived up to that billing when Jahrome Hughes crossed over in the 11th minute after being picked out by Joey Manu.

But Australia, who have not lost a World Cup match since 2008, responded five minutes later through Josh Addo-Carr's 12th try of the tournament.

Jordan Rapana's penalty had the Kiwis back in front, only for their opponents to again hit back thanks to Valentine Holmes, who dotted down in the corner.

Dylan Brown chased down Ronaldo Mulitalo's pass to give New Zealand the half-time lead, which they would have extended if not for Peta Hiku's try being ruled out. 

Australia used that scare to their advantage as Murray capitalised on some sloppy defending to power through in the 53rd minute, with Nathan Cleary adding the crucial extras.

No further points followed, with Hiku having a late try chalked off and Australia holding firm to reach yet another final, where either England or Samoa await on November 19.

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    Sherfane Rutherford hit an unbeaten 68 – including a staggering 37 from the final two overs – as West Indies reached the Super-8 stage at the T20 World Cup with a 13-run victory over New Zealand.

    The co-hosts looked to be on course for their first defeat of the tournament when they slipped to 22-4, Trent Boult finishing with a team-best 3-16 for the Black Caps.

    Rutherford had little support and initially made slow progress, only to dial it up in the dying stages, smashing three maximums off Daryl Mitchell in the 19th over then hitting two fours and another six off Mitchell Santner in the 20th.

    New Zealand's chase never really got going as their middle order collapsed, Windies paceman Alzarri Joseph finishing with figures of 4-19 and Gudakesh Motie going 3-25.

    Joseph's delivery saw Glenn Phillips caught by Rovman Powell at long on for the innings' crucial wicket, the all-rounder hitting 40 off 33 balls as none of his team-mates managed above 26.

    While West Indies retain a perfect record at the top of Group C, New Zealand are on the brink of an early exit. They must win their remaining matches against Uganda and Papua New Guinea and hope other results go their way to advance.

    Data Debrief: Rutherford's rescue act

    When West Indies found themselves teetering in Trinidad and Tobago, Rutherford bailed them out.

    His 68 runs at number six represents the second-best score ever recorded by a batter coming in at six or lower at the T20 World Cup, after Cameron White managed 85 versus Sri Lanka in 2010.

  • ‘We are pretty confident’: Powell fancies Windies chances to break NZ’s heart, secure Super-8 berth ‘We are pretty confident’: Powell fancies Windies chances to break NZ’s heart, secure Super-8 berth

     West Indies have enjoyed somewhat of a storming start to their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign, but it’s safe to say those victories over minnows Papua New Guinea and Uganda were always expected.

    Though a bit shaky in a five-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in their Group C opener, West Indies backed that victory up with a convincing 134-run beating of newcomers Uganda. However, the Caribbean side will be hopeful of a better second half to the group stages, as they now have New Zealand to contend with, and Afghanistan to follow.

    With four points already to their credit and New Zealand yet to get on the board, the Darren Sammy-coached West Indies is targeting another win, which would guarantee them a spot in the Super Eight, and basically eliminate the Black Caps.

    A record crowd is anticipated for the encounter, scheduled to play under lights at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, in Trinidad and Tobago, on Wednesday.

    While acknowledging that it will be an exciting challenge, West Indies captain Rovman Powell believes it is also an opportunity for his team to showcase the class and form that they have enjoyed over the past 15 months.

    During that time, the now number-four ranked West Indies registered 2-1, 3-2 and 3-2 series wins over South Africa, India and England respectively, before losing 1-2 to Australia. Prior to the World Cup they swept South Africa 3-0 at Sabina Park.

    "We are pretty confident; the boys been playing some very good cricket, and we know New Zealand will pose different challenge from our first two opponents. But having said that, once we just focus on ourselves and play good cricket, we should be okay,” Powell told journalists at a pre-game press conference on Tuesday.

    "If you should look on the last year, the last twelve or 14 months, West Indies have played very good T20 cricket. So it's just a continuation of us doing that, even though it's a World Cup, the guys have done a lot of hard work coming into this World Cup, so hopefully we can show that hard work. It's two of the more traditional nations, Afghanistan and New Zealand, but I think once we focus on ourselves, we should be okay,” he added.

    Given that New Zealand succumbed to a heavy 84-run defeat to Afghanistan, in a contest where they were bowled out for 75 runs, Powell said it signals some semblance of vulnerability in the opponents’ form and, as such, he and his team are looking to capitalise.

    "If there's a good time to play New Zealand, I think it's definitely now. They're a little bit undercooked and the pressure is really on them because this game decides whether they go on or not. But, we're not focusing on New Zealand, we're focusing on what we have to do, and once we do what we have to do, then that will take care of itself,” Powell noted.

    That said, the Jamaican once again declared their intentions to possibly secure an unprecedented third T20 World Cup title. West Indies won the 2012 and 2016 tournaments in Sri Lanka and India, and Powell is optimistic that they can now secure a title home soil, a feat he said would mean more to cricket in the region that just one more trophy.

    “When you look on the benefits of playing a World Cup at home for West Indies cricket, it's an enormous benefit. If we should go on and win the World Cup, it would make us the first team to win a T20 World Cup at home. From a financial standpoint, it (hosting) boosts West Indies cricket economy, and is beneficial for so much different islands to be getting international cricket of such good standards, so that in itself is a beneficial factor,” Powell reasoned.

    “For us as players, it's an opportunity for us to cement our space in West Indies cricket folklore, and winning a World Cup on home soil, not just myself as captain, but all the guys, will be remembered for such achievement.

    "But those expectations are on the back of us playing good T20 cricket, which has resulted in us being ranked number four in the world now, and it's for us to continue to manage those expectations. I think the guys have done that, we are at home, so obviously expectations and pressure is always there, but it's just for us to keep on playing good cricket and keep on entertaining the fans,” he ended. 

  • Six uncapped players make England squad for Japan, New Zealand Tests Six uncapped players make England squad for Japan, New Zealand Tests

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    Harlequins prop Fin Baxter and centre Luke Northmore, Sale pair Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck, Bristol's Gabriel Oghre and Northampton's Ollie Sleightholme are all included.

    Having named a 36-man squad, England will train at Twickenham on Tuesday before flying out to Japan to prepare for their opening Test.

    "The Summer Series presents a valuable opportunity for the continued development of this squad and is a demanding challenge to conclude the season," Borthwick said.

    "The National Stadium in Tokyo is an incredible venue for Test match rugby, and we will need to be at our very best against a Japanese team who will want to play fast.

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    Full England squad: Fin Baxter, Dan Cole, Alex Coles, Chandler Cunningham-South, Ben Curry, Tom Curry, Theo Dan, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Jamie George (c), Joe Heyes, Maro Itoje, Joe Marler, George Martin, Gabriel Oghre, Bevan Rodd, Ethan Roots, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Joe Carpenter, Fraser Dingwall, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Ollie Lawrence, Alex Mitchell, Luke Northmore, Harry Randall, Tom Roebuck, Henry Slade, Ollie Sleightholme, Fin Smith, Marcus Smith, Ben Spencer, Freddie Steward.

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