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Rugby League World Cup Final 2008
25 October-22 November 2008
Fixtures | Tables

Australia 20-34 New Zealand (Full-time)

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

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By Pranav Soneji

1116: So goodbye World Cup, thanks for the memories - and most of those will be from one of the greatest final upsets in the history of sport. Thanks to all of you who contributed via TEXT and 606. Here's until another four years.

1113: No nonense from Nathan Cayless, who holds aloft the Rugby League trophy for the first time in the country's history. Cayless big-ups the sizeable English contingent, who stayed behind for the presentation ceremony.

1109: The referees receive their medals from the presentation party, but those that remain in the near-empty Suncorp Stadium air their feelings about their performances, wonder if any Aussies will want to buy them a beer tonight in Brissy. Darren Lockyer is named man of the match, although the Brisbane Bronco, sporting a nasty cut to the eye as well as a voice as horse as coalminer's, looks about as thrilled as the man who just discovered his winning lottery ticket was for the week before.

"You can be dominant all competition, but if you can't do it in the final, it means nothing. The Kiwis have been the best team over the 80 minutes and their belief is outstanding."
Hull KR coach Justin Morgan on BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra

"That's how to do it All Blacks! Good on NZ a great effort opitimised by Smith's match winning tap tackle - what a game, what a result, international RL flourishes, woohoo!"
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1059: Right then, who expected that? Not me, not most of the people sitting around me. And probably most of you too. So what will this victory do to the 13-a-side code in New Zealand? I sincerely hope this will give the sport the publicity it so sincerely deserves in the land of the Land of the Long White Cloud.


78 mins: Billy Slater makes a trademark break, but his pass to David Williams lands straight out to touch. The Kiwi players are already celebrating in the dug-out, even former Kangeroo coach and all-round Brisbane Broncos and rugby league legend Wayne Bennett has a smile on his face.

"So proud to be a NZer this makes up for all the 'choking' at every Rugby Union WC!!!! We've dominated this second half, this is surely the BIGGEST upset ever in a world sporting final???"
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"Let the party begin!"
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Nathan Fien sends up another up 'n' under towards Manu Vatuvei, who palms back the ball towards a team-mate, but the ball comes off David Williams' arm as Adam Blair picks up the loose ball to touch down. Understandably, referee Ashley Klein goes to Steve Ganson, quite possibly the most unpopular man in the whole of Australia, sees nothing wrong from a Kiwi hand and awards the score. Quite, quite, quite unbelievable. And Benji Marshall extends the lead to 14 points. Game. Set. Match. Surely?

"Luckily still nine minutes to go. Anyone remember 1990 in GB?"
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72 mins: Jeremy Smith could quite possibly have won New Zealand the World Cup. Jonathan Thurston makes a wonderful line break inside the 40m line and is away, but Melbourne's Smith makes a despairing tap tackle, which sends the Cowboy to the ground. And to make matters worse for the green and gold, Thurston knocks on as he goes to ground.

Joel Monaghan makes a howler of Billy Slater proportions as he overruns the bouncing ball after Nathan Fien's clever kick. Lance Hohaia is destined to touch down, but Monaghan wrestles the full-back to the ground with a horrid right arm as Ashley Klein goes to the video referee. After two minutes of deliberation, referee Steve Ganson awards a penalty try. Oh my. Someone get my heart back in my ribs. Benji Marshall adds the two points to give the Kiwis an eight-point lead. Controversy of the highest order.

68 mins: Massive call from Ashley Klein, who pings Australia for offside at the tackle. Mr Klein is an Aussie, the majority of his compatriots at the Suncorp Stadium wouldn't think so with that decision.

"It's great to see Darren Lockyer in the thick of the action and it was a lovely pass to put Inglis in. That was some nice enterprising play from the Aussies and the game is set up for an exciting finish."
Hull KR coach Justin Morgan on BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra

Sheer class. My fingers are in danger of falling off here. Super hands from Thurston and Lockyer inside the 10m line finds Greg Inglis on the left flank and the huge centre touches down to send the crowd into raptures. The Brissy faithful are suffering from a serious bout of squeaky bum time right now as Jonathan Thurston misses the conversion from the left touchline, so New Zealand retain a slender two-point lead.

A fine kick from Nathan Fien sees the best player in the world Billy Slater collect the ball inside his in-goal area. But the full-back has a moment of utter madness as he flings the ball back in play inches from touch under pressure from Manu Vatuvei, only to see the loose ball fall into the path of Benji Marshall, who cannot believe his luck with a free run to the tryline. Ashley Klein doesn't need to go to the video ref. Slater looks as if he's just dropped the World Cup, but Marshall cannot add the extras. What a game.

59 mins: Australia are penalised for attempting to bundle Lance Hohaia into his in-goal area after Ashley Klein had called held.

58 mins: Israel Folau collects a tricky pass on the bounce as he lunges over the tryline, but brilliant work from Lance Hohaia, who wraps his body around the ball to ensure the Melbourne player cannot ground the ball. Video ref Steve Ganson agrees, but Australia still have possession.

57 mins: Lance Hohaia just fails to get outside of his own in-goal area after a fine clearance kick on the fifth tackle, giving the green and gold ideal field position from the drop out.

54 mins: Brilliant defence from David Fa'alogo, who forces Jonathan Thurston to knock on 15m from the Kiwi tryline. The North Queensland Cowboy is absolutely livid. Apparently we have over 5000 British fans cheering on a Kiwi win too.

"I know nothing of rugby league, but rested easy putting a 1000 bet on the Aussies, nothing looks easy right now!"
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51 mins: David Williams is absolutely nailed by four tacklers as he is bundled out to touch inside his 30m line. The New Zealanders are all over this half. Isaac Luke in particular is looking very tasty.

Australia are pinged for a penalty by the posts and the resulting tap sees Lance Hohaia skin Darren Lockyer on the inside from five metres and Pietro Civoniceva and Billy Slatyer cannot prevent the full-back from giving the Kiwis the lead again. Isaac Luke adds the two points with a fine kick from the left.

43 mins: David Williams knocks on as he is tackled by Isaac Luke, who has a little rub of the ball as the winger goes to ground. Williams protests as Ashley Klein awards the scrum to the men in black. He's got a point too, but Jonathan Thurston makes no mistakes as he bags Nathan Fien's high kick inside his in-goal area for a 20m restart.

42 mins: Lovely left-footed kick from Cameron Smith pins the Kiwis back inside their 10m line as Manu Vatuvei clears up.

41 mins: A flat pass from Nathan Fien sees Manu Vatuvei powers over on the left flank, but top tackling from David Williams takes the massive winger out to touch. He also drops the ball too, so the video referee is working out what to do with the restart - scrum or 20m restart. Steve Ganson says a scrum.

1005: And we're off.

"Still anyone's game, kiwi's seem to be counter attacking fairly well under our kicks which has been under pressure all night/morning.. think the aussies will increase there dummy half runs, and try to go through some tiring forwards in the 2nd.
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0959: My morning has just got a whole lot better as a cup of the finest tea the BBC can offer has just handed on my desk. Wonder if there will be any teacup-flinging in the Australia dressing room?

"Just read Justin Morgan's idea of the Kiwis attacking through the air, I don't recommend that idea.. Big Israel and Joel Monaghan a superb under the high ball just as Billy Slater is too."
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"It has been a great display from both teams in the first half. The Kiwis have been a little unlucky but they are still in the game and I would like to see them put the ball in the air more in the second half and see if they can get some results."
Hull KR coach Justin Morgan on BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra


39 mins: A massive hit from Sam Rapira gets the crowd going as Lance Hohaia makes a smart break from his own tryline to the 30m line as the half-time hooter sounds. What a half. This tournament has been crying out for a game of this class. About time I say.

"That is brilliant. The Australian ability to get the offloads away is pure class." Stroller95 on 606
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You have to stand back and admire some of the Australian passing. Darren Lockyer scores his second of the final after a wonderful sweeping move involving Thurston, Brent Kite and Anthony Watmough before Lockyer crosses over. Thurston adds the extras as the Kangeroos regain their four-point lead. What a belting match.

32 mins: Israel Folau is quite possibly the biggest 19-year-old unit I have ever seen. The Melbourne Storm centre cannot snatch a Thurston high, hanging crossfield kick on the sixth tackle, handing the Kiwis the opportunity to clear their defensive lines. The whole move is started off after an elementary handling error from Benji Marshall after New Zealand were awarded a penalty in Aussie territory.

"Aus getting killed by the refs."
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Unbelievable! Benji Marshall is tackled by Anthony Laffranchi, who attempts to strip the stand-off, but the loose ball is pounced upon by Sika Manu, who speeds into the 30m line and sends through a wonderful inside pass to Jerome Ropati to score. Ashley Klein goes to his video ref - and Steve Ganson confirms the loose ball came from Laffranchi's - not Marshall's - hands. Issac Luke adds the extras to give New Zealand the lead. Game. On.

26 mins: Another howler from Lance Hohaia, who drops the restart under his posts. He did that a few times against England last week, but the Kiwi defence hold firm as Joel Monaghan is bundled out to touch.

"Great try by Jeremy Smith - very simple play. We've seen him threaten throughout the tournament and this will get the Kiwis well and truly back into the game. Nathan Cayless has been instrumental in getting his team to go forward. He has been inspirational and now that he has been substituted it will be interesting to see how his team gets on."
Hull KR coach Justin Morgan on BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra

Brilliant 10m run from Jeremy Smith, who picks up the ball at dummy-half to power over the tryline under the posts to give Issac Luke the easiest of conversions.

22 mins: Excellent kicking from Fien sees Joel Monaghan concede a drop out from under his posts - and a fine Fien crossfield kick on the fourth tackle from 15m just evades the chasing Sam Perrett as Monaghan clears once again for another drop out.

20 mins: The fat lady is warming up her vocal chords as Cameron Smith's cheeky grubber kick is grounded by Darren Lockyer. But Ashley Klein is convinced something is awry - and Steve Ganson confirms his suspicions because the Brisbane Bronco did not ground the ball as he attempted to ground it. A costly mistake? I'll let you know in 55 minutes...

18 mins: Things are going from bad to worse for the Kiwis - their restart goes long, handing the Australians a penalty on the halfway line.

Unbelievable. Winger David Williams races down the right-hand touchline from the halfway line after a fine pass caught opposite number Manu Vatuvei sleeping. The Manly lad has some serious pace to burn, it's only his second appearance for the Kangeroos. And Thurston adds the extras with a simple kick in front of the posts.

"You can't give Billy Slater any space or he will burn you. Just when we thought the Kiwis were in the ascendancy, the Aussies hit back when nothing seemed to be on."
Hull KR coach Justin Morgan on BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra

Just when you thought the Aussies were on the back foot, out comes a superb break from Billy Slater, who scythes through New Zealand's defence on the 30m line before floating an inside pass to Darren Lockyer, who scores his first try of the tournament in his 50th appearance for the Kangeroos. But Thurston misses the conversion.

9 mins: The Aussies are rattled - they are not playing to anything like the standards they have been during these past four weeks. Greg Inglis sends a wild offload skywards, a pass which sees Israel Folau lose 10m in possession. Top tackling from Jerome Ropati to ensure Folau is grounded.

7 mins: Massive error from Benji Marshall, who attempts to gain tons of ground from a penalty, but doesn't find touch, giving Australia the opportunity to go exploring inside NZ territory. But excellent defence sees Jonathan Thurston wrapped up on the sixth tackle attempting a powerplay on the final tackle.

5 mins: Benji Marshall runs on towards a wonderful grubber kick from Nathan Fien on the 10m line, but Marshall, on-side when the kick was made, cannot ground the ball and video ref Steve Ganson has one of his more easier decisions as the "NO TRY" sign is met with a round of cheers from the Suncorp faithful.

3 mins: A lovely, jinky run from Benji Marshall culminates in a testing high kick for Joel Monaghan, who not only bags the catch but makes at least 15m with a powerful surge. Good start from the Kiwis though.

2 mins: Not the best start from Jonathan Thurston, whose clearance kick from Australia's first set of six goes long. Good pressure from New Zealand's runners on the scum-half.

"Best Kangaroos side ever, my poor Kiwi's probably (almost definitely) don't stand a chance. Let's give 'em hell anyway!"
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0902: This is awesome! The Australians are eyeball-to-eyeball with the Kiwis as they do the Haka. The crowd goes bananas - this is going to be painful... Lockyer to kick off after Australia won the toss. Super League is very much at this final - Ashley Klein takes charge, while Steve Ganson is on duty as video ref.

0859: A fella, not too dissimilar to British crooner Darren Day, belts out "God Defend New Zealand" before giving it "COME ON NEW ZEALAND". That will endear him to a nation of 20m...

0855: A thoroughly pumped Nathan Cayless leads his side out lined up alongside Darren Lockyer, who is winning his 50th cap for the Kangeroos.

0853: So just how are the Kiwis going to win this match? The wet football could make the sweeping passing moves the Australians love so much redundant, which means Nathan Fien could have a major role to play with his tactical kicking at scrum-half. Queensland has been hit by the worst storms in over 20 years, but tournament organiser Colin Love scoffed at the thought of postponing the final at the Suncorp Stadium:

"This is a major venue that is used to accommodating large crowds in all conditions - we have every confidence in their procedure."

0845: Australia coach Ricky Stuart has made a couple of enforced tweaks to his side, with prop Brent Kite coming in for the injured Steve Price, while Anthony Watmough takes his Manly team-mate's place on the interchange bench. New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney has no such issues, with his 17-man team coming through their pre-final training sessions unscathed.

0834: Apparently we're expecting a downpour in tropical Queensland, wonder if that will play into the Kiwis' hands. The bookmakers obviously don't think so, they've got the Green and Gold down for 10-1 on favourites.

0830: So here it is, the four-week extravaganza is almost over - it's time for Australia v New Zealand - anyone have a punt on that particular fixture a month ago? Thought so.

Australia: B Slater (Melbourne); J Monaghan (Canberra), G Inglis (Melbourne), I Folau (Melbourne), D Williams (Manly); D Lockyer (Brisbane, capt), J Thurston (North Queensland); P Civoniceva (Penrith), C Smith (Melbourne), B Kite (Manly), G Stewart (Manly), A Laffranchi (Gold Coast), P Gallen (Cronulla). Interchange: K Hunt (Brisbane), C Fitzgibbon (Sydney Roosters), A Tupou (Sydney Roosters), A Watmough (Manly).

New Zealand: L Hohaia (NZ Warriors); S Perrett (Sydney Roosters), S Mannering (NZ Warriors), J Ropati (NZ Warriors), M Vatuvei (NZ Warriors); B Marshall (Wests Tigers), N Fien (NZ Warriors); N Cayless (Parramatta, capt), T Leuluai (Wigan), A Blair (Melbourne), S Manu (Melbourne), D Fa'alogo (South Sydney), J Smith (Melbourne). Interchange: I Luke (South Sydney), G Eastwood (Brisbane), B Harrison (Wests Tigers), S Rapira (NZ Warriors).

Referee: Ashley Klein (England).

see also
Australia v New Zealand (Sat)
21 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia make new World Cup bid
20 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Aussies driven by fear of failure
19 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Stuart concerned about Kangaroos
16 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia 52-0 Fiji
16 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
New Zealand 32-22 England
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League

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