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The Rock-itt : December 2009
The Four Nations between Australia, New Zealand, England, and France is now complete, and the Kangaroos have again shown their international dominance taking out the title, and in the progress, regaining their place on top of the international rankings after the Kiwis clinched last year's world cup. It all started the week before the final. Australia took on France in Paris, and was played more like a warm up for the Kangaroos before the big final the following weekend. Australia was shaky in the first half against the French, going into halftime with a slim 8- 0 advantage after Penrith Panther's centre, Michael Jennings, scored 2 impressive tries in the first 40 minutes. It was a different story in the second half with the Kangaroos scoring 3 tries in the opening 10 minutes of the second stanza before Michael Jennings claimed his hat-trick and Josh Morris bagged a double late in the game to claim a comfortable 46- 4 victory. But a week out from the final, the Kangaroos' game was not the most anticipated, with all eyes on the England, New Zealand clash with the winner to take on the Green and Gold. New Zealand had been the form team of the tournament at this point after thrashing France, and unlucky not to beat Australia in the tournament's opener. While England was scrappy against France and played a terrible first half against Australia, with the tournament on the line, England looked a different team and never really let New Zealand in with a chance with a Kevin Sinfield penalty goal in the 72nd minute sealing the 20-12 victory. Then it was time for the final, Australia VS England, the oldest rivalry in rugby league history. The Kangaroos and Brett Morris were unlucky not to open the scoring account in the 8th minute with the video ref. disallowing a try out wide. England struck almost immediately with impressive the South Sydney recruit stepping through the line before fooling the Australian fullback with a big dummy to score. Brett Morris left no doubt in the ref's mind about his next time over the line scoring to level up the scores. England again found themselves in the lead after 20 minutes with winger, Peter Fox, leaping over Dally M medallist, Jarryd Hayn,e to score. Then the Kangaroos produced a bit of brilliance to level the scores again, a nice move from Thurston put Hayne through a gap before the Eels fullback kicked the ball in-goal where Greg Inglis won the race and placed the ball. A late penalty goal by Thurston had Australia go into the sheds leading 14-10. The opening of the second half saw both teams exchange some big hits, with the forwards being made to work overtime. It was England who drew first blood with Sam Burgess barging over the line to again give the Lions the lead. From there it was one- way traffic with the Kangaroos running in an incredible 6 tries in 25 minutes of rugby league. First it was Billy Slater scoring his first of three 4-pointers, and then just 4 minutes later, Brett Morris scored his second. Cameron Smith joined the try-scoring list after a freakish effort from Slater. After Lockyer grubbered in-goal, Slater saved the ball from going over the dead ball line, batting the ball back to Smith who placed the ball. Fate seemed to have rewarded Slater for his effort's just 2 minutes later with the Storm fullback crossing for his second. Jarryd Hayne continued the scoring rout diving on a ball in goal to guide the Kangaroos over 40 points, but that wouldn't be all. Slater finished off with his 3rd try before the siren sounded handing England a 46-16 score line that in all fairness didn't give a fair reflection of the closeness in the match. Jonathan Thurston was named Man of the Match while newly crowned Golden Boot winner Greg Inglis named man of the series. The 4- Nations tour again proved that Australia is the benchmark in Rugby League and after last year's world cup disappointment, the Darren Lockyer led Kangaroos, once against backed up their number 1 ranking. The 4-Nations marked the end of Rugby League 2009, with 2010 promising greatness. It all kicks off 13th February with the NRL VS Aboriginal All-Stars, as well as the NRL, State of Origin, and Papua New Guinea replacing France in next year's 4-Nations. Greg Inglis