Ignore the final score. Whether the Roosters had claimed a 21-20 victory off the back of a freakish Latrell Mitchell field goal or the men in purple had pinched the game at the other end from the boot of Cameron Munster, it makes little difference.
We’ve been through two thoroughly entertaining weeks of the Four Nations, and at this stage, absolutely nobody’s position in the final is safe. Neither is any team out of the hunt.
With that in mind, here’s my you-beaut, guaranteed guide to how each team can make or miss the final.
The Kiwis’ situation is, not surprisingly, the best – they’ll make the final with anything better than a 10-point loss to England. A 10-point win to the Poms is the point at which England’s differential is better than New Zealand’s.
Although New Zealand’s differential is 18 points better than England’s (+20 against +2), every point England wins by would drag that gap two points in the Poms’ favour.
If the Kiwis do lose by 10 or more, they’re still a chance of holding onto their final berth if Australia doesn’t beat Samoa. And if New Zealand lose by more than 10 and Australia win, the combined margin of the two games needs to be greater than 34 for Australia to usurp New Zealand.
To sum up, for the Kiwis to miss the final the following must happen:
The Poms are in a slightly odd place. They could beat the Kiwis and miss the final, and they could lose and still make the final.
The only way for England to guarantee a final berth is to beat New Zealand by at least 10 points. Anything less than this leaves them behind New Zealand on for and against, and hoping for a shock Samoan win. If England win by less than 10, and Australia beat Samoa, the Kangaroos’ victory margin must exceed England’s by at least 17 points to knock England out.
If England lose, they need a Samoan win to give them a chance. The combined margin of a Kiwi win over England and a Samoan upset would need to be less than eight points to keep England in the final. If England lose and Australia win, England is out, having only won one game to Australia’s two.
A win to Australia does not guarantee their progression, but a loss kills their hopes. As Samoa’s differential is better than Australia’s, a Samoan win finishes Australia’s tournament.
What the Kangaroos need to progress depends on what happens between England and New Zealand:
Yes, they can make it. A win over Australia (despite the fact it would be the biggest upset in international rugby league history) would give them hope. They also need England to lose, and the combined margin of the two games would need to be at least eight points.
So there we have it. All four teams go into this weekend with everything to play for.