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Result: Australia battle to opening win over England at 2017 World Cup

Australia overcome a valiant effort from England to register an 18-4 victory over Wayne Bennett's side in the opening game of the 2017 World Cup.

Australia have started their 2017 World Cup campaign with an 18-4 victory over England at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

England took an early lead through Jermaine McGillvary, but Australia were ultimately too strong and put in a performance that always left England struggling to claim their first win over their old rivals since 1995.

England have reached the semi-finals at the last three World Cups, and Wayne Bennett's men got off to the perfect start in Melbourne as McGillvary touched down in the corner after receiving a high pass from Gareth Widdop.

The conversion was missed but England continued to set about putting in the defensive performance which was required to minimise the threat offered by the hosts and pre-tournament favourites.

However, once the first quarter of the game had passed, Australia began to dominate and it came as no surprise when Matt Gillett powered over the line to get Australia back on level terms, before Cameron Smith sent over the extra two points.

Before the half-hour mark, Australia extended their advantage through Billy Slater, who executed a clever dummy before touching down for his team's second try in seven minutes.

An injury to Sam Burgess led to one of England's key men spending the period before the break off the pitch, but England were able to see out the remainder of the first half without further damage.

Burgess would begin the restart on the sidelines with his knee in a brace but to England's credit, they were much improved during the opening stages of the second period.

Jonny Lomax nearly went over as he failed to collect a pass from Luke Gale, but Australia remained a threat each time they ploughed forward in search of the try which would put them within touching distance of the win.

Slater knocked on when seemingly ready to touch down but as the game entered the final five minutes, Smith sent over the penalty that put England two tries away from an improbable win.

England were left needing to throw caution to the wind but it only allowed Australia to take advantage of the space and Josh Dugan was able to run the full length of the pitch to register the home team's third try of the night, and with it seal the perfect start to their campaign.

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Sam Burgess looks on during the England training session held at Pennyhill Park on August 18, 2015
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs382321367392871
5Arsenal382171073512270
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd381991065541166
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38169134746157
8Everton38159145446854
9Leicester CityLeicester38157165148352
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham38157165255-352
11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3899203560-2536
RCardiff CityCardiff38104243469-3534
RFulham3875263481-4726
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3837282276-5416

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