“IF the Kangaroos comfortably beat England … the engraver can start writing Australia 2008 on the giant silver World Cup.” (Ray Chesterton, Australian Daily Telegraph, written one game into the 2008 tournament).
Funnily enough, Chesterton’s been a bit quiet since the World Cup final. As we all know, Australia steamrollered England immediately after that comment. However, we hope the engraver didn’t take his advice, as it’s going to make the trophy look a bit messy.
The poor Australians were set up for the mother of all falls from grace by their own media and duly collapsed against a determined New Zealand side, who gleefully lifted their first ever World Cup. We would feel sorry for them, but we haven’t laughed so much in years.
That said, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for Darren Lockyer who, had he not let the ball slip from his hands as he dived over the line, would have put his side 16 points clear, or Billy Slater, arguably the player of the tournament, whose inexplicable error led to the decisive try.
While Aussie coach Ricky Stuart continues to rant on about global conspiracies against his side we have this to say to him, and to Mr Chesterton.
Yes, England were crap, but in the end they won just as much as you did – naff all.
• OK, back down to planet Earth with a bump. That’s one way to make an impact Martin Johnson, steering England to their heaviest ever Twickenham defeat. Suddenly the memories of Brian Ashton’s tenure are starting to gather a strange rosy tint.
Why South Africa? If you had to lose to someone, why did it have to be to a team that’s still crowing about their World Cup win a year ago and, by their own admission, were struggling to get motivated for this game?
Last time around the optimists explained away the defeat by citing Mark Cueto’s controversially disallowed try. This 42-6 thumping can’t be put down to bad luck, or bad refereeing. Even the sin-binning of Conrad Jantjies couldn’t give us an opening to exploit.
“We knew it was going to be tough.” said absurdly gracious Boks coach Peter de Villiers. “England came out all guns blazing.”
We’re tempted to suggest they may have been pointing said guns the wrong way round.
• MARTIN Gleeson, one of the few shining lights of England’s dismal World Cup, may just have bought himself a ticket out of the drudgery of Warrington and into the sunshine of New South Wales.
NRL clubs Gold Coast Titans and South Sydney Rabbitohs are both keen on the free-scoring centre and look set to battle it out for his services. It says a lot that one of England’s top performers is being linked with two sides who barely threatened to crack the NRL top 10 last year, let alone challenge for the title. Get out while you can, Martin – hopefully you won’t end up cleaning the ANZ Stadium bogs.