ANOTHER 12 months, one other case of ‘What if?’ for England and boss Wayne Bennett.
They usually face an damage fear after Sam Burgess was pressured off with a knee downside within the first half.
Spectacular winger Jermaine McGillvary gave England the lead with a strive within the nook on this opening match of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
However Matt Gillett crashed by way of after an error downfield and Billy Slater touched down simply earlier than the half-hour to place the hosts in management.
England performed properly within the second half however as soon as once more had been the architects of their very own downfall.
Now it rests on England’s remaining group video games in opposition to Lebanon in Sydney and France in Perth, however this ought to be a case of, ‘What may need been.’
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Bennett sprung a surprise before a ball was even kicked when Ben Currie was named on the bench instead of Alex Walmsley.
A virus the St Helens prop suffered earlier in the week was believed to be the reason why but England shrugged off the blow by opening the scoring.
Gareth Widdop floated the ball right for McGillvary to put down, it could not get better, could it?
Well, seeing Cooper Cronk fling the ball back to McGillvary at the end of a dazzling Aussie break felt like a second try.
No side is better at building pressure than Australia and seeing them force three goal-line drop-outs was seemingly a sign of things to come.
But England held on – with McGillvary proving as crucial in defence as attack – until Matt Gillett punished slack defending after a poor error with the ball handed Australia possession.
All too often, England were their own worst enemies and after skipper Sean O’Loughlin conceded a penalty, Billy Slater crashed through – it was starting to look all too familiar.
Things got worse on 35 minutes when Sam Burgess was forced off with a knee problem as England may have been pleased they were only six points behind at the break.
England were sent out early for the second half, presumably with a blunt message from Bennett ringing in their ears.
And they at least started better as Burgess sat on the sideline out of his kit and in a brace.
England looked threatening on a couple of occasions when Widdop combined on the right wing with McGillvary.
When Slater dropped a Widdop kick on his own line, England had a real chance but could not punish the error.
Ryan Hall went close to a try in the corner with six minutes left but was just bundled into touch.
But once Elliott Whitehead was penalised for stripping the ball, Cameron Smith’s penalty sealed the win for the Aussies.
And Josh Dugan raced 80 metres after snapping up Widdop’s kick to really put the game beyond doubt.
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