Spoiler alert: The video above is of the final. Read the text first is my suggestion.
The 13th WC was in the year 2008. The 200 edition was comprised of sixteen teams but the 2008 tournament just ten, a regressive step to my way of thinking. The standard between teams around the ten to sixteen area is fairly even so the sport can easily accommodate the larger number. It meant some competitive sides weren't there.
Group 1: The usual group combination of Australia and England was again used along New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Poor PNG in the pool of death would cause quite an upset to progress. They did give England a scare in the first game but that proved to be their chance which they couldn't take. Australia won from NZ, a poor England came third to become the qualifiers.
Group 2: Three teams had just two games to grab the top spot and progress to the next round. France defeated Scotland, then lost heavily to Fiji. They in turn narrowly lost to Scotland which gave the Scots their first WC. However, points differential got Fiji through as they all secured two points each.
Group 3: Tonga pipped Ireland, then lost to Samoa. Then Samoa lost heavily to Ireland, giving them each 2 points. Ireland got through on points difference. Grouping teams of a similar standard together created more even results in matches and was a success.
Next round: As some teams only got two games, there were two matches that fixed that. Also, Fiji and Ireland had a gave to decide who went into the semi finals, with the Pacific nation just too good.
Semi Finals: Australia took on Fiji and were not troubled at all. NZ played England for the second time and a surprisingly similar scoreline gave the Kiwis a date with destiny (36-24 and 32-22).
The Final: This was Australia's 9th WC final and NZ's third, held in Brisbane in front of 50,500 spectators. I recall watching it live, thinking the in form Kangaroos would run away with it like they had done with recent clashes between these teams. However, the Kiwis were hanging in. I was waiting for the NZ side to break but instead it was the Aussies who uncharacteristically cracked. The Kiwis took the game 34-20 in what was a surprise boil over (see video).
The 2013 series can be seen by clicking here.
The first in the series (1954) can be seen by clicking here.
|2008 HOSTS: AUSTRALIA WINNER: NEW ZEALAND|
|Group 1||Gr 2||Gr 3||NZL||4||+30||TON||48||AUS||52|
|Group 2||9 10th||NZL||32|