The Final of the 4 Nations tournament would be contested between the usual suspects Australia and New Zealand. England had their best chance of making a final when the World Cup was played in England in 2013 when they were beaten by the Kiwis in the semi0-final at Wembley; I think that’s the closest I’ve been to tears of disappointment at a rugby match! That final was a one sided affair and nothing I’d seen of the Kiwis had me believing this 4 Nations final would be any different. The Kangaroos are quite simply a different gravy.
The Final was played at Anfield, a place I’d never been. Having watched England play Fiji at Twickenham on the Saturday I had a bit of a drive to make Liverpool, I booked a Travelodge on the Stafford Services on the M6. It was a bit of a mission and I had to blast myself with cold air and loud music to stay awake, but once I’d arrived I found a surprisingly quiet hotel where I had a good sleep. My drive the following day wasn’t far at all and I arrived in the right area with time to spare.
I parked close to Goodison, the home of Everton then walked across Stanley Park to Anfield. The New Anfield Road Stand is stunning and can be seen from afar, my seat was in the Centenary Stand, it was a real thrill to be there. Both my son and step-son are Liverpool fans and I now have one jealous son as he’s never been.
I’m not going to write too much about the actual game itself, as hinted this was to be another one sided final. With Jonathan Thurston and Cameron Smith likely to be making their final appearances in England, the 2 of them along with Cooper Cronk were at the centre of a masterclass in rugby league. Had I not seen some of the passes made I wouldn’t have believed them, the Australians were literally outrageous with their skills at times.
Australia dominated the first half scoring 24 points and keeping the Kiwis scoreless, they didn’t look like scoring at any time in the first 40. Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin scored tries in the first quarter and Thurston added a penalty. A second Duggan try just before half time rubbed salt in the Kiwis wounds.
Darius Boyd extended the Kangaroos lead just after half time before the Kiwis showed some fight and flair with Jordan Kahu scoring 2 tries, for a while the Kiwis were winning the 2nd half! However Boyd Cordner put that right with a late try. The game finished with the scores on Australia 34 New Zealand 8.
With the World Cup taking place in Australia, PNG and New Zealand it’s hard to see past another Final win for Australia. One bright thing to take from this tournament is that 1 point for Scotland rugby league gained from drawing with the Kiwis.