England aim to end 45 years of hurt in Rugby League World Cup final

England may have lost 12 straight matches against Australia but they have enough quality to upset the Kangaroos in Brisbane on Saturday

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The Kangaroos have won all their preliminary matches, hardly breaking sweat. They are playing in front of their home crowd at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the spiritual home of the Australian game, a ground they all know inside out. Their opponents should just be glad to be in the final, to enjoy the experiences, to indulge themselves in the pomp and ceremony of the occasion, and to lose with dignity. Their challenge has been swatted away again and again, the upstarts sent packing every time. Australia win. Australia win. Australia win. Repeat. They are undeniably favourites.

Except the underdogs have a wily old pack, full of experienced veterans, playing in what well could be their final final, for some their first and only final. They have a couple of breakout stars who Australia’s supposed experts had hardly heard of before the tournament, let alone the general public. Their half-backs suddenly seem to know what they are doing, and what each other are going to do, too. And the hooker is a class act, an 80-minute motor who could star in the NRL.

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