Leading up to Saturday’s showdown between Australia and England at Suncorp Stadium, we’re reliving the classic Rugby League World Cup finals of the past 30 years – and the Kangaroos will be hell-bent on avoiding a repeat of the only final they’ve hosted in the past 40 years.
Red-hot favourites to retain the World Cup in the Suncorp Stadium decider against New Zealand in 2008, Australia raced out to a 10-0 lead before being reeled in by the plucky Kiwis.
Australia led 16-12 at halftime after man-of-the-match Darren Lockyer’s second try, but New Zealand secured one of the all-time great international upsets in an extraordinary second half.
A now-infamous Billy Slater howler handed Kiwi five-eighth Benji Marshall a crucial four-pointer before a penalty try to fullback Lance Hohaia extended the underdogs’ advantage.
Following Adam Blair’s match-sealer, New Zealand finished the euphoric triumph – its maiden World Cup success – as 34-20 victors over the shell-shocked Kangaroos, who had not lost a World Cup tournament since 1972.
Former Australian coach Wayne Bennett celebrated on the field with the Kiwis, having acted as young mentor Stephen Kearney’s assistant throughout the year; meanwhile, Bennett’s Kangaroos successor, Ricky Stuart, was sacked from his post after abusing referee Ashley Klein in the team hotel after the shock defeat.