Rugby World Cup 2008

Having had their fingers burned by the 2000 World Cup, the rugby league authorities were in no mood to stage another event quickly, with the Tri-Nations assuming pole position in international competition.

However, by 2008 the collective will came together to stage another tournament, this time in Australia to celebrate 100 years of rugby league down under.

A heavily-altered format saw Papua New Guinea dumped in a qualifying pool with the big three from which three semi-finalists were to emerge, while the minor nations played off for one semi-final.

For England the group stage proved to be an embarrassment, as a narrow 30-22 victory over PNG was followed up by a 52-4 hammering at the hands of Australia, featuring hat-tricks from Billy Slater and Greg Inglis.

A subsequent 36-24 defeat against New Zealand, for whom Manu Vatuvei ran in four tries himself, saw the English facing a semi-final against the same opponents.

Meanwhile, Australia were set to face the winner of the minor nations contest for the other semi-final place, after defeating New Zealand 30-6 in Sydney.

Fiji emerged as their semi-final opponents, topping Group B after an impressive 42-6 win over France, before defeating Group C winners Ireland in the play-off.

Predictably the Kangaroos hammered the Fijians 52-0 to book their place in the final, while New Zealand eased past England 32-22 in Brisbane.

The final itself threw up a surprise result, as despite Australia's dominance of the tournament so far, New Zealand claimed their first-ever World Cup. Trailing 16-12 at half-time the Kiwis blasted back with three second-half tries to take the title 34-20.

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