But Australia's response was to shrug their shoulders and score one of the tries of the tournament.
The quick-thinking Smith and Thurston created space for Hayne, whose brilliant grubber kick dissected the England defence. The rest was left to the impressive Greg Inglis.
The centre, who was named as the Golden Boot winner after the game, outpaced the opposition and, according to the video referee, got his hands on the ball.
Thurston converted and then added a penalty as Australia controlled the final stages of the half.
Indeed, the visitors perhaps should have been further ahead only for a crunching Shaun Briscoe tackle on Inglis to thwart what looked like an almost certain score.
Sensing perhaps that history was beckoning, England began the second half with purpose and it was Burgess, put through by a lovely Gareth Ellis pass, who finished a sustained period of pressure with a lovely try.
Sinfield converted and with England 16-14 ahead the Elland Road crowd raised their voice to almost deafening levels.
Yet, just as in the first half, England's lead was short-lived as three minutes later Slater crawled over the tryline to nudge Australia ahead.
It was Sinfield who conceded the penalty just inside his own half which allowed the side in green and gold to move upfield to such devastating effect.
Slater scored a hat-trick in an impressive display
Just before the hour a brilliant Thurston kick into the corner found Morris, who got his hands on the ball to score in the corner, for what was the turning point of the game.
England were forced to change their line-up when Michael Shenton was stretchered off after a clash of heads with prop Ben Hannant.
And the ferocity of the battle seemed to have an affect on the rest of the England players as Australia dominated, with the quick-witted Slater punishing England.
Slater, just as he was heading towards the deadball line, leapt into the air and tapped Darren Lockyer's kick back towards Smith, who scored underneath the posts.
Thurston converted before Slater went over for an easy converted try which all but sealed the Four Nations title for the southern hemisphere side.
Lockyer carved open the England defence once again as Hayne scored out wide before Slater completed his hat-trick to make it 46-16 for the visitors with two minutes remaining.
In the end, Australia won the inaugural competition with ease and England left the field scratching their heads, wondering if they will ever beat the formidable green and golds when it matters.
England: S Briscoe (Hull KR); P Fox (Hull KR), C Bridge (Warrington), M Shenton (Castleford), R Hall (Leeds); S Tomkins (Wigan), K Eastmond (St Helens); A Morley (Warrington), K Sinfield (Leeds), J Graham (St Helens), J Peacock (Leeds, capt), G Ellis (Wests Tigers), S Burgess (Bradford).
Replacements: J Roby (St Helens), E Crabtree (Huddersfield), B Westwood (Warrington), J Wilkin (St Helens).
Australia: B Slater (Melbourne); J Hayne (Parramatta), G Inglis (Melbourne), J Hodges (Brisbane), B Morris (St George Illawarra); D Lockyer (Brisbane, capt), J Thurston (North Queensland); P Civoniceva (Penrith), C Smith (Melbourne), B Hannant (Canterbury), L Lewis (Penrith), P Gallen (Cronulla), N Hindmarsh (Parramatta).
Replacements: S Thaiday (Brisbane), A Watmough (Manly), K Gidley (Newcastle), B White (Melbourne).
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