LEEDS RHINOS’ Ryan Hall scored the opening try of the World Cup, but England were beaten 28-20 by Australia in Cardiff today.
After a traumatic week England put up a much better showing than had been expected and were 10-0 at the end of the opening quarter.
Australia deserved their win, but a spirited display by England - after several controversial calls went against them - will give Steve McNamara’s side a fresh injection of confidence going into the rest of the tournament.
Hall crossed on nine minutes from Sam Tomkins’ pass and then Huddersfield Giants’ Leroy Cudjoe touched down from a kick by Kevin Sinfield, who also converted.
George Burgess had a touchdown ruled out by video referee Ben Thaler in between the tries, but Australia began to take advantage of England’s errors and ill-discipline.
Man of the match Jonathan Thurston began the fightback from Greg Inglis’ pass after he snatched a kick from Tomkins’ grasp.
England led 10-6 on 37, but then Greg Bird strolled in and Billy Slater scored direct from a scrum on the final play of the half, Thurston converting all three tries.
The game seemed over when Brett Morris crossed at the start of the second half, but George Burgess crashed over and Sinfield’s conversion cut the gap to six points on 50 minutes.
Thurston booted a penalty with 16 left and Darius Boyd’s try put Australia two scores clear before Josh Charnley scored a consolation try on 76.