Bennett doesn’t rate England in World Cup final

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    England probably aren’t playing well enough to beat Australia in the Rugby League World Cup final – or so says their coach.

    In typically dry fashion, NRL-based supercoach Wayne Bennett told reporters on Saturday that his side’s display in their 20-18 semi-final win over Tonga wouldn’t be enough for the all-conquering Kangaroos next weekend in Brisbane.

    Seemingly coasting at 20-0 with seven minutes left, England somehow gave up three late tries to a fast-finishing Mate Ma’a.

    Australia obliterated Fiji 54-6 in Friday night’s first semi-final, seeking to win a fourth World Cup crown in five attempts.

    “Probably not,” Bennett said when asked if England could lift the trophy.

    “But we’ll be there next week – we’ll still go to the game.”

    Speaking with his tongue less firmly in cheek, Tonga counterpart Kristian Woolf felt England had every chance of World Cup glory, but had to be perfect.

    Australia’s defence – with only three tries conceded all tournament – would certainly be miserly, meaning England would have to follow suit.

    “They’re going to defend well, going to be very hard to score points against, and England were very tough to score points against tonight,” Woolf said.

    “I’ve had good looks at England and New Zealand (but) I really haven’t had a good look at Australia, except for what we’ve seen against Fiji last night – they were outstanding; they’re going to be very hard to beat and always are.

    “I’d certainly like to think England make it a real contest.”

    Bennett, keeping his cards close to his chest, also said he hadn’t spent much time watching Australia’s performances.

    His side started off their campaign with a group-stage opening match against the Kangaroos and lost 18-4, but scored the game’s first try.

    They’ve since gone on to defeat France and Lebanon in pool play, before a 36-6 quarter-final win over Papua New Guinea and Saturday’s semi-final triumph.

    © AAP 2017