2008: New Zealand
2008 Rugby League World Cup tournament
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup tournament was held in Australia from 26 October, culminating in the final between Australia and New Zealand on 22 November. It was the 13th staging of the World Cup since the inauguration of the tournament in 1954, but the first since the 2000 event.
It was the fourth time that the tournament has been held in Australia, the first being in 1957. The winner was New Zealand, who defeated Australia 34-20 in the final in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport. The tournament featured the best ten teams across the globe which were split into three groups. A total of eighteen matches took place in twelve different venues across four Australian states. The tournament ended a year of celebrations commemorating the centenary of the game in the southern hemisphere and is part of the Festival of World Cups.
The Rugby League International Federation officially announced this tournament on 6 May 2006, with further details on scheduling and dates following on 19 April 2007.
The first match took place in Townsville between England and Papua New Guinea, although the official opening ceremony of the competition occurred before the Australia and New Zealand match the following day in Sydney.
The final took place at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
New Zealand 34 - 20 Australia
November 22nd 2008
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Ashley Klein (England)
New Zealand: Hohaia, Perrett, Mannering, Ropati, Vatuvei, Marshall, Fien, Cayless (C), Leuluai, Blair, Fa'alogo, Harrison, Smith. Subs: Luke, Eastwood, Rapira, Manu
Tries: Smith, Ropati, Hohaia 2, Marshall, Blair. Goals: Luke 3, Marshall 2
Australia: Slater, Monaghan, Inglis, Folau, Williams, Lockyer (C), Thurston, Civoniceva, Smith, Kite, Stewart, Laffranchi, Gallen. Subs: Hunt, Fitzgibbon, Tupou, Watmough
Tries: Lockyer 2, Williams, Inglis. Goals: Thurston 2
A Billy Slater moment of madness and a controversial penalty try have combined to deliver New Zealand their first ever rugby league World Cup with a stunning 34-20 upset win over Australia in Saturday night's final at Suncorp Stadium.
Massive underdogs heading into the match, the Kiwis pulled off the biggest upset in World Cup history as the Kangaroos surrendered their No.1 ranking to their trans-Tasman rivals with their first loss since 2006.
The Aussies were left lamenting a series of blunders and a massive call from video referee Steve Ganson - the Englishman awarding the visitors a penalty try with ten minutes remaining which extended New Zealand's lead to beyond a converted try.
Adam Blair then confirmed the win with a try four minutes from time to revive memories of their memorable 2005 Tri-Nations final triumph.
Ganson ruled Australian winger Joel Monaghan had taken out Lance Hohaia as he chased through a Benji Marshall grubber, Slater's proximity to the incident giving doubt as to whether the Kiwi No.1 would have got to the ball first.
The Australians had just got themselves back into the contest when Darren Lockyer, who scored two tries, sent Greg Inglis over to cut the deficit to 22-20, coming after Slater's season of magic spontaneously combusted with a monumental brain-snap.
Slater, who had a stunning first half in which he set up tries for Lockyer and David Williams, chanced his arm one too many times with his flirtation with the touchline ending in disaster as he flicked the ball infield ten metres from his own line only to watch Marshall pounce and dive over for a 22-16 lead with just 19 minutes remaining.
It set up the sort of grandstand finish tournament officials had been craving after the Australians had romped though the preliminary rounds with massive winning margins over every opponent.
Fears of another landslide Kangaroo win evaporated after a committed first half from both sides.
The scene was set for an epic opening as the Kiwis got within centimetres of their opponents while performing their traditional pre-game haka, the emotion spilling over into several heavy hits early in the contest.
New Zealand were their own worst enemies early on with Marshall blowing an easy chance for an early try when he failed to ground a Nathan Fein grubber.
The Australians were not so charitable with Lockyer crossing for his first after Slater looked like he had butchered the opportunity when he elected to go himself.
Williams then ran away for a 10-0 lead but a denied try to Lockyer turned the contest with Jeremy Smith and then Jerome Ropati - after Marshall had been ruled to have been stripped of the ball - putting the Kiwis up 12-10.
Lockyer completed his double to restore Australia's advantage but it wasn't enough as the Kiwis flew home after the break to become the first side other than Australia to win a World Cup since Great Britain's win in 1972.
New Zealand beat England: 32 - 22 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Attendance: 26,659
Australia beat Fiji: 52 - 0 at Sydney Football Stadium. Attendance: 15,855
Semi Final Qualifier
1st, Pool 2 v 1st, Pool 3
Fiji beat Ireland: 30 - 14 at Skilled Stadium, Gold Coast. Attendance: 8,224
2nd, Pool 2 v 2nd, Pool 3
Tonga beat Scotland: 48 - 0 at Browne Park, Rockhampton. Attendance: 5,913
3rd, Pool 2 v 3rd, Pool 3
Samoa beat France: 42 - 10 at CUA Stadium, Penrith. Attendance: 8,028
England beat Papua New Guinea: 32 - 22 at Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville. Attendance: 10,780
Australia beat New Zealand: 30 - 6 at Sydney Football Stadium. Attendance: 34,157
New Zealand beat Papua New Guinea: 48 - 6 at Skilled Park, Gold Coast. Attendance: 11,278
Australia beat England: 52 - 4 at Telstra Stadium, Melbourne. Attendance: 36,297
New Zealand beat England: 36 - 24 at EnergyStadium Stadium, Newcastle. Attendance: 15,145
Australia beat Papua New Guinea: 46 - 6 at Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville. Attendance: 16,239
France beat Scotland: 36 - 18 at Canberra Stadium. Attendance: 9,287
Fiji beat France: 42 - 6 at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Attendance: 9,213
Scotland beat Fiji: 18 - 16 at Bluetongue Stadium, Central Coast. Attendance: 9,720
Tonga beat Ireland: 22 - 20 at Parramatta Stadium. Attendance: 6,158
Samoa beat Tonga: 20 - 12 at CUA Stadium, Penrith. Attendance: 11,787
Ireland beat Samoa: 34 - 16 at Parramatta Stadium. Attendance: 8,602
Jason Robinson talks about 'this amazing competition'.
Dual code, England, GB and Wigan legend Jason Robinson talks to SLTV about his hopes for RLWC2013.