England can make history this Saturday and take home their first ever Rugby League World Cup, but they will have to overcome favourites Australia on their home turf to pull it off, in what promises to be a spectacular finale between the two rivals.
England haven’t made it to a Rugby League World Cup Final since 1995, when they were narrowly beaten to the trophy by none other than Australia in a thrilling 16-8 decider at London’s Wembley Stadium.
This time, however, at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, England will face an even tougher challenge.
Australia have dominated this year’s tournament from day one, having beaten England once already in the opening match of the tournament, and have conceded only 16 points in all five games en route to the final.
In the group stages the Kangaroos beat England 18-4, thrashed France 52-6, and one week later went on to demolish Lebanon 34-0, in what can only be described as a clinical display of Aussie brilliance.
And as if those results weren’t flawless enough, the Kangaroos then went on to whitewash Samoa 46-0 in the quarter-finals and Fiji 54-6 in the semis.
In contrast, England’s route to the final has been a more nervy affair, with some knocks and wobbles along the way.
After losing to Australia in their opening match, the Lions have improved steadily and have looked more dangerous with each fixture, but have not shown the same appetite for wanton destruction as the fast-paced and defensively rock-solid Australian side.
In the group stages England disposed of Lebanon with a comfortable 29-10 win, and then went on to beat France 36-6 and Papua New Guinea by the same score in the quarter-finals.
Things got tough for England in the semis, however, as Tonga pushed the Lions to a nail-biting finale with just two points between the two sides at the final whistle.
Having been 20-0 up with just seven minutes to go, England needed a controversial call in the final play of the match to prevent Tonga from stealing victory in the final seconds.
The match finished with England victorious at 20-18, but celebrations were muted.
England know that any defensive lapses in the final will see them punished by this year’s unstoppable Australian side.
Look out for England’s Jermaine McGillvary, of local team Huddersfield Giants, who goes into the final as England’s top try-scorer with seven tries.