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Battling England floored in World Cup opener

ESPN staff
October 26, 2013 « Bale handed Clasico start | Chartbeat test »
England and Australia played out a thrilling World Cup opener in Wales © Getty Images
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Despite a battling performance in their 2013 World Cup opener, England could not prevent Australia from taking the points as the visitors enjoyed a 28-20 win at the Millennium Stadium.

England flew out of the blocks in Wales and enjoyed a dream start to their World Cup campaign as Ryan Hall crossed the line after seven minutes. A great run from George Burgess saw him offload the ball to Sam Tomkins, who fed Hall with the perfect pass to put England ahead. However, skipper Kevin Sinfield missed the conversion to stretch the lead.

Burgess thought he had put England further ahead when smashing through Australian tackles on the 15-minute mark, but the video review showed he had lost control of the ball before crossing the line.

England brushed that off and soon moved into a 10-0 lead when Leroy Cudjoe collected Sinfield's reverse kick, before the latter successfully converted.

However, a piece of magic from Greg Inglis quickly turned the match on its head. Inglis rose highest to claim the ball with Tomkins looming, before offloading to Johnathan Thurston to close the gap.

On 36 minutes, Australia completed their comeback as Greg Bird grounded the ball and Thurston converted to leave England trailing for the first time in the match.

The damage was further increased shortly before half time as Billy Slater showed the England line a clean pair of heels, brushing off a final tackle to ground in the corner. Thurston converted for the second time in four minutes as Australia stole the momentum at the break.

Brett Morris brought further misery on McNamara's side, controversially touching down after Josh Charnley was earlier adjudged to have crossed the white when chasing down Cameron Smith's kick - resulting in boos from an unhappy Cardiff crowd. They were soon cheering again as Burgess completed good work from his brother Sam to crash over the line; this time, the video referee having no issue as Sinfield converted to put England right back in it.

Ben Westwood spilt blood after he was caught on the forehead as England put their bodies on the line to draw level. Sam Burgess could count himself a little fortunate to stay on the field after flooring Sam Thaiday with a loose arm.

Australia began to turn the screw as Thurston punished the growing England indiscipline with a converted penalty, leaving the home team with it all to do in the final ten minutes.

The away side looked to have confirmed the win when Darius Boyd crossed in the 70th minute, but Josh Charnley pounced on a sleepy Australia defence set up a tense finish. However, it was not to be as Australia held firm to deny England an opening day victory.

Elsewhere, Wales also suffered an opening day defeat as they went down 32-16 to Italy. Wales were well in touch of overturning an 18-16 scoreline with 12 minutes to go, but two late tries by James Tedesco and Chris Centrone cemented victory for the visitors.

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