http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/leag ... zxh7d.html
Australia 6 England 0
It took six weeks to tell is what we already knew: that Australia is the best rugby league nation in the world.
The first chapter of the World Cup book was familiar, its ending even more predictable but every twist in between has given the international game a little ray of hope that it won't be swallowed up in the money-spinning domestic juggernauts. And didn't this last chapter have some twists.
It took all of Wayne Bennett's mastery and mind games to make the World Cup final, a classic case of brute over brains. He's passionate about nothing other than winning, and he almost won the unwinnable.
The post-mortem will say he has breathed life into England, made Australia hold their own for 80 minutes and helped an international game bob its head above water for a bit of deserved affirmation. Reports of its death, as they say, have been greatly exaggerated.
And so Australia live on as world champions. You can't completely suck the life out of the Kangaroos' cast of millionaires in a Test match. Not yet. Not when there is so much at stake. But wasn't the ending supposed to be so much easier than this?
Mal Meninga became the first man to captain and then coach his country to World Cup triumphs, but his old sparring partner Bennett made him sweat for it as one Boyd Cordner try was all that separated the teams with Australia scrambling to a 6-0 win at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Meninga still hasn't lost as coach of the Kangaroos in two years. But while the gap to a shambolic New Zealand widens, the gap to an improving England closes.
Much like in the tournament opener, England were like a little puppy who just kept nipping at the heels of a new owner. They annoyed them during the week with ruckgate, then annoyed them when it mattered most on the night.
But annoying and annulling are two different things. The Kangaroos' rule on international rugby league is not over.
If not for the late arriving fingertips of Josh Dugan to scrape Kallum Watkins' ankles and trip him up midway through the second half with a try beckoning, the rugby league world could have been turned upside down. It was the best chance England had. They had more than most thought they would get. And still came up empty.
Bennett may have quipped that England couldn't win after a pulsating semi-final win over Tonga, but even he didn't believe what he was saying.
And neither did Sam Burgess. The man who was run out of rugby union after a forgettable World Cup in the 15-man game has never stood so tall in the 13-man game, launching at Australian ball carriers and trying to inspire one of the biggest boilovers in World Cup history.
The stand-in captain for the injured Sean O'Loughlin didn't need the affirmation of being first out of the tunnel to prove he was England's on-field leader.
It took 15 minutes for the Kangaroos to finally crack the white brick wall Bennett has built, Cordner charging onto a Michael Morgan pass to crash over. They wouldn't do it for the remaining 65.
Admirably, England stood tall for the rest of the first half. Yet it is one thing being brave, another brilliant. And against a suffocating Australian defence there are not many chances to be brilliant.
Luke Gale sent a clutch of swirling torpedoes into the Brisbane night sky and they were as close to the try line as England could get in the opening stanza.
Australia got over the same try line early in the second half, but a protesting Elliott Whitehead implored referee Gerard Sutton to check Jordan McLean hadn't used Cameron Smith as an impediment in the build-up to Michael Morgan scooting over. He was vindicated.
But barely a minute later Whitehead was being checked again, this time for his senses after Cordner clattered into him. The attack might not have been edge-of-the-seat stuff, but the defence was.
And so England kept prodding, Bennett's fingertips all over a side fuelled with confidence only he could give them. Gareth Widdop switched to the halves. Watkins and Jermaine McGillvary threatened.
But confidence only gets you so far against class. Maybe the ending will be different next time.
Australia 6 (Boyd Cordner try; Cameron Smith goal) defeated England 0 at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton. Crowd: 40,033.