New Zealand to face Australia in cup final

Kiwis snatch victory from England in dying seconds with try and conversion, as Australians thrash Fiji 64-0.

    New Zealand to face Australia in cup final
    Australia's Jarryd Hayne scores their sixth try against Fiji at Wembley Stadium in London [AFP]

    New Zealand broke England hearts with a last-gasp converted try to win their gripping Rugby League World Cup semi-final 20-18 in London.

    The Kiwis will defend the title in the final against favourite Australia next Saturday at Old Trafford, after the Kangaroos, demolished Fiji 64-0, to repeat the semi-final results from the last cup in 2008.

    Co-host England was 30 seconds from reaching the final until Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson slipped his counterpart Kevin Sinfield and wrong-footed last defender George Burgess to dive across the line and make it 18-18 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

    Johnson then made the conversion, his fourth goal of the game, and punched the air before he was swamped by team mates.

    England had fought back from 14-8 down to lead 18-14 in the final minute but they conceded a penalty for a needless high tackle on Sonny Bill Williams and Johnson jinked over to level the scores before kicking the conversion to send the defending champions into the final.

    The English opened the scoring after 15 minutes when powerful surges by forwards James Graham and Sam Burgess set up Sean O'Loughlin to cross the line.

    Kevin Sinfield converted the try and kicked a penalty under the posts to put the hosts 8-0 ahead.

    Acrobatic display

    New Zealand struck back before half-time, however, thanks to a sublime piece of skill from centre Dean Whare who acrobatically kept the ball in play and flicked it back for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to plunge over from close range.

    Johnson converted from the touchline and he kicked a penalty just before the interval to send the sides in level at 8-8.

    Tuivasa-Sheck claimed his second try four minutes into the second half following a sustained spell of New Zealand pressure and Johnson slotted over another penalty.

    England were rocked but they conjured a superb try of their own when a fine flat pass by Sinfield put Kallum Watkins through a hole in the Kiwi defence and the centre dived over to score.

    Roared on by the Wembley crowd, England sensed their chance and their forwards launched a sustained assault on the New Zealand line before Burgess picked up the ball 20 metres out and stormed over.

    Sinfield's conversion put England 18-14 ahead with 11 minutes remaining but, after resisting waves of New Zealand attacks, George Burgess's high tackle on Williams gave New Zealand good field position and Johnson took full advantage.

    Meanwhile, Australia outclassed Fiji, running in six first-half tries by Johnathan Thurston, Darius Boyd, Cooper Cronk, Jarryd Hayne (2) and Josh Papalii to lead 34-0 at the interval.

    Hayne played for Fiji in the 2008 semi-final. The Kangaroos have not missed a final since 1957,  against his old team.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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