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

Stuart felt sorry for his 'outstanding' players

Australia coach Ricky Stuart refused to blame video referee Steve Ganson for awarding a controversial penalty try in New Zealand's World Cup final victory.

The St Helens official deemed Kangaroo winger Joel Monaghan had prevented Lance Hohaia from scoring in the 70th minute despite Billy Slater covering.

"That's not for me to judge, I just need to cop the result," said Stuart.

"There is a lot of disappointment with the players, probably because we didn't play our best game."

The Kangaroos had been overwhelming favourites to lift the World Cup for the 10th time in the tournament's history, but Stuart had expressed concerns about their comfortable progress to the final.

The hosts took a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes through tries from Darren Lockyer and David Williams, but leaked two first-half scores as they looked to play their expansive passing game.

"We tried to spread the ball too early in our tackle counts rather than working the ruck, we had 15 out of 15 sets and had missed six tackles, we just didn't have it on the scoreboard," said Stuart, who suffered his second defeat in 14 matches in charge of Australia.

"We probably should have had the ability to keep the lead, but to New Zealand's credit they grinded their way back a good part of the second half.

"They were good at it tonight, we were not at our best."


The game swung in New Zealand's favour when a wild pass inside Australia's 10m line from Billy Slater, voted the world player of the year earlier this week, was touched down by Benji Marshall for a 22-16 lead on 60 minutes.

But Stuart refused to criticise the Melbourne Storm full-back, whose brilliant line break set up Lockyer for the first try of the match.

"If I asked Billy Slater to take that out of his game, he wouldn't be the Billy Slater that we all love. I would never ever be critical of Billy," said Stuart.

The Kiwis had been on the end of a 30-6 defeat to Australia in Sydney at the very start of the tournament and many media observers had predicted a similar result at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, much to Stuart's chagrin.

"The preparation we had was not for a final, but had to deal with it and move forward," said the former New South Wales coach.

"I know some of you (assembled journalists) didn't believe me, but you only have to have one off game and you've lost.

"Show some journalistic skill and promote New Zealand, they were better than us tonight."

see also
Australia 20-34 New Zealand
22 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Kiwis delighted by World Cup win
22 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
World Cup pictures
22 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Brisbane storm worst in 25 years
17 Nov 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Aussies driven by fear of failure
19 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia 52-0 Fiji
16 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
New Zealand 32-22 England
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup history
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby League

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