With the previous World Cup decided the year before, the three-year format again returned in 1989 with a powerful Australian side the favourites to retain their crown.
Papua New Guinea again returned but enjoyed even less success than in their previous outing, losing all eight games to take the wooden spoon. France were similarly uncompetitive, managing only to defeat PNG in their programme.
Beaten finalists from the previous tournament, New Zealand got off to a bad start, losing to Australia in their opening game in Auckland before being edged out by Great Britain at Headingley 10-6.
They got revenge shortly afterwards, though, in another tight game, winning 21-18 in Christchurch, but the return leg against Australia in Brisbane saw them falling to a heavy defeat 40-12, which proved crucial.
Big wins for Great Britain against France in Perpignan 45-10 and at home to Papua New Guinea 56-4 inflated their points difference, so when they finished level in the table with New Zealand, the Lions were the ones to advance to the final.
Given Australia's dominance of the group stage, completing a perfect eight wins out of eight, the Kangaroos were expected to walk away with the title once again.
However, another highly physical affair in front of a record 73,000 crowd at Wembley saw Great Britain leading with just 12 minutes to go, before a try from legendary Brisbane centre Steve Renouf edged the Aussies home 10-6.