The Kangaroos have defended their Rugby League World Cup crown with a tense 6-0 win over England.
Australia were in control for most of Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium but were pushed until the final minute by a stirring English outfit that refused to give in.
In the end it was only Boyd Cordner’s 15th minute try that was the difference, with Australia keeping their try-line intact for the third time in the tournament.
Having conceding 16 points in five games on the way to the decider, the Kangaroos again were resolute in defence to claim their 11th World Cup.
In front of a crowd of 40,033, it was Australia’s first World Cup triumph on home soil since 1977 and their 13th straight win under coach Mal Meninga to keep his unbeaten record intact.
Meninga also becomes the first person to captain and coach the Kangaroos to World Cup glory.
Michael Morgan appeared to have doubled Australia’s advantage in the 47th minute, however the video referee found Cameron Smith committed a shepherd in the lead-up.
England had a number of opportunities late in the second half, including being thwarted twice in as many minutes by clutch defensive plays from Josh Dugan.
Dugan first denied the visitors with a tough run out of the in-goal to avoid a line dropout in the 63rd minute, before stopping a certain try when he ankle-tapped a runaway Kallum Watkins.
In a last roll of the dice, England coach Wayne Bennett injected utility Jonny Lomax at fullback and switched Gareth Widdop into the halves, but it wasn’t enough as Australia held on.
Tempers flared early when skipper Sam Burgess came after Josh McGuire for retaliating to Luke Gale’s high tackle on Smith in the 10th minute that ignited a mini melee.
However, the incident only spurred the hosts to crank up the pressure with four straight sets, the last of which ended with Cordner running his trademark left-edge hole off of Morgan.
From there, Australia expertly managed possession and territory – it was only a desperate England defence and Gale’s long-range kicking that limited the Kangaroos to one first-half try.
The visitors had a handful of looks at the opposition line but brought themselves undone by committing most of their six first-half errors in good-ball position.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said his team wouldn’t have won without the right attitude, particularly in the second half when England pushed hard to level the score.
“Without a really good attitude and understanding of what the occasion is, we wouldn’t have delivered that result,” Meninga said post-game.
“When you look at the nil scoreline, I’m really proud of the way they defended again to keep on coming up with special efforts, particularly in that second half.”
England coach Wayne Bennett was also proud of his team’s effort, and compared the contest to a State of Origin match.
“I’m really proud of them. I thought it was somewhere around State of Origin-standard actually. Just the intensity of it, the effort by both teams,” he said.
“Lots of times they were exhausted and still found something, another effort on effort. It was pretty good stuff. They probably had a little bit more ball control than we did.”