Slater sinks brave England

Billy Slater scored a hat-trick as Australia killed off an outstanding England effort to reassert their world dominance in a thrilling Gillette Four Nations final.

England led three times during an end-to-end battle at Elland Road, with Sam Burgess scoring two brilliant tries and Peter Fox also touching down.

Yet the Kangaroos came back each time and were eventually comfortable 46-16 winners with Slater and Brett Morris scoring five of Australia’s eight tries.

England started confidently, with a break from Kyle Eastmond inside the opening two minutes pegging the Australians back on their own line.

Sinfield declined the chance to go for goal after England were awarded a penalty and was almost rewarded as he kicked through and forced Slater to concede a drop-out.

Australia looked to have broken through as Brett Morris found room out wide but Ryan Hall dived in and forced the winger to knock on.

The crowd were confused as ‘no try’ quickly came up on the big screen only for video referee Phil Bentham to study more replays. Eventually the decision was confirmed.

England then stunned Australia to claim the lead after 11 minutes with a superb individual try from Sam Burgess. The South Sydney-bound forward broke from halfway and wrong-footed Slater with a superb dummy to score.

Sinfield converted and when Australia’s kick-off flew straight over the dead-ball line England almost scored again from another Burgess break.

Burgess, however, should have passed when he had the opportunity and James Graham was intercepted by Johnathan Thurston moments later.

Australia quickly moved the ball the length of the field and sent Morris over in the corner. Thurston’s goal levelled at 6-6.

England were unfazed and reclaimed the lead just moments later as Fox, scorer twice against the Kiwis, outjumped newly-named world player of the year Jarryd Hayne to reach an Eastmond kick and touch down.

Yet England were caught out as Hayne broke and kicked long for the dangerous Greg Inglis. The Melbourne centre won the race to the ball and was awarded a try - his third against England in the series - just inside the dead-ball line.

The decision, however, was highly controversial as, despite repeated replays, it was still unclear whether Inglis had full control. Thurston converted and then added another two points with a penalty before the break.

England enjoyed some good possession early in the second half and a chance opened as Fox cut in from the right, but the winger’s kick was too strong.

The reintroduction of Burgess off the bench in the 49th-minute mark then paid immediate dividends as England reclaimed the lead.

Tomkins switched direction with a clever reverse pass and Gareth Ellis then sent Burgess powering over after a crossfield run.

Sinfield’s conversion made it 16-14 but Australia came straight back as Slater sneaked over from dummy half after Kurt Gidley was stopped just short.

England had a chance to break back after a Thurston error but the attack broke down and Australia then took advantage to extend their lead.

Thurston kicked for the corner and a wide-open Morris was on hand to dive over for a spectacular try, making the score 22-16.

Play was held up for around six minutes after Michael Shenton was knocked out and eventually carried off on a stretcher.

Australia took a firm grip with 10 minutes remaining as Slater brilliantly kept a Lockyer kick in play and Cameron Smith pounced to score.

The Kangaroos then wrapped up victory three minutes later as Smith found a gap and Lockyer put Slater in for his second.

Hayne rubbed salt into the wounds late on as he found space to slide onto another fine Lockyer kick, and there was still time for one more try as a Gidley kick bounced kindly for Slater to complete a hat-trick.

Thurston, named man of the match, took his goal tally for the evening to seven as Australia extended their lead to a flattering 30 points.