Australia overcame a strong performance by England in the opening match of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup in Melbourne to defeat the Lions 18-4 at the final whistle.
England took an early lead against the defending champions when Huddersfield Giants winger Jermaine McGillvary scored a try in the fourth minute.
The Kangaroos struggled to get through England’s defence until Matt Gillett put them ahead in the 23rd minute with his try and Cameron Smith’s conversion gave Australia a narrow 6-4 lead.
Australia’s advantage was extended with full-back Billy Slater’s try before half time, and the two sides remained separated by just six points until the final five minutes.
Then, Smith sealed the game for Australia with a late penalty followed by Josh Dugan’s interception try in the final minute after the Lions were caught on the break.
The result marked England’s 12th consecutive defeat against World Cup favourites Australia.
It was the first game of the 36-day tournament, in which England will face Lebanon next in Sydney, on November 4th, while Australia will play France in Canberra on the 3rd November.
Feature image: Credit to Scott Barbour/Getty Images