England pushed holders Australia all the way in an enthralling World Cup opener before conceding eight points in the last five minutes to go down 18-4 at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.
Coach Wayne Bennett had suggested he would settle for an honourable defeat in England’s first group game in the hope that they might improve sufficiently to get their revenge in the final so, from that point of view, it was mission accomplished.
It could have been so much better as England gave the 2,000 travelling fans plenty to cheer about but the big worry is a knee injury sustained by talismanic forward Sam Burgess.
What they said
Tweet of the match
Sam Burgess is such a talismanic figure for England and to lose him after 35 minutes with a knee injury was a body blow from which they never quite recovered.
Winger Jermaine McGillvary is small in stature but big in heart, which he demonstrated throughout the first half in particular. He scored the first try of the match – his fifth in six matches – but also caught the eye with some terrific defence and some determined relieving runs.
Friday, November 3: Australia v France (Canberra).
Saturday, November 4: England v Lebanon (Sydney).