3 Nov 2014

Kangaroos edge England

5:29 am on 3 November 2014

Defending champions Australia have kept their Four Nations rugby league chances alive with a nailbiting 16-12 win over England at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

England's James Graham is tackled by Australian opponents. Four Nations. 2014.

England's James Graham is tackled by Australian opponents. Four Nations. 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A loss would have denied the Kangaroos a chance at making the tournament final in two weeks, and it looked possible at halftime with the visitors leading 12-4 after scoring two-tries-to-one.

But the English didn't trouble the scorers in the second half, with an 80th minute touchdown to winger Ryan Hall, which would have levelled the scores, denied by video referee Bernard Sutton.

Two tries in seven minutes midway through the second half paved the way for the Australian win, with utility Ben Hunt sparking the home side's attack after coming on in the 53rd minute.

Hunt pounced on a Cameron Smith grubber to score in the 57th minute and Greg Inglis put Australia ahead in the 64th minute, from there they were never headed.

Results and for and against from Australia's match with Samoa and England's clash with New Zealand next week will determine the tournament finalists in a fortnight's time.

"That was a real Test match," Smith said after the game.

"That was what international football is all about."

In a somewhat spiteful start to the game before 20,585 fans, three players: Liam Farrell, Sean O'Loughlin and Greg Bird were put on report in the opening 10 minutes, before the game settled down.

By then Australia had lost back-rower Beau Scott to a hamstring injury for the rest of the game.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 17th minute when a Daly Cherry-Evans inside ball put Greg Bird in the clear 50m out and he dished off for Michael Jennings to cross after making his way through some flimsy defence - Cameron Smith missed the easy conversion for a 4-0 scoreline.

England were not afraid to throw the ball around out wide and it paid dividends in the 29th minute when Ryan Hall made a huge bust upfield.

Daryl Clark was pulled into touch after being held at the end of the movement and from the ensuing penalty England threw it wide again, this time on their right, for Kallum Watkins to score out.

Gareth Widdop's conversion put the visitors ahead 6-4.

They added to that when Hall scored in the 34th minute from a lovely Dan Sarginson pass, and Widdop's conversion edged England further ahead 12-4.

Jennings' stepping created space out wide and an opportunity late but his pass to winger Josh Mansour flew into touch.

England counter-attacked and Tomkins burst upfield in the shadows of halftime but the promising raid broke down and they took an eight point lead into the break.