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Rugby League World Cup Final Betting: Elementary for England - just stop Holmes

England must create chances for Sam Burgess
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Australia are massive favourites to retain their title on Saturday morning but Ralph Ellis looks at how Wayne Bennett's side could cause an upset...

"England showed in the first match of the tournament, before they lost Burgess with injury, that they can give Australia a decent game. They will certainly be value to back with an 18.5 point handicap."

Sir Bobby Robson was well known for getting his players' names wrong. In fact he got just about everybody's name wrong at some time.

The great TV frontman Des Lynam revealed that Sir Bobby used to greet him as "Les". Shola Ameobi was once asked if Robson had a nickname for him to which he replied, "Yes, Carl Cort". And most famously of all he called his own England captain Bryan Robson "Bobby".

It's the sort of thing that if you or I did it would annoy people. But genial Sir Bobby had a way of making it an endearing quality and his players loved him for it.

Which brings us from one famous manager of an England World Cup side to another because apparently Wayne Bennett, in his first phone call to star winger Jermaine McGilvary, kept referring to him as "Jamie".

It didn't seem the most promising of starts for the Huddersfield winger, but here we are a year or so later and McGilvary is telling the tale with a huge smile ahead of Saturday morning's Rugby League World Cup final.

Holders Australia are [1.12] in the Match Odds to retain their trophy and if England are going to do anything to change that then the crusty, 67-year-old Bennett is going to be key. And come to that so is McGilvary, whatever first name you choose to give him.

The 29-year-old is the man with the daunting task of confronting Australia's latest sensation Valentine Holmes who followed his record breaking haul of five tries in the quarter-final by running in six in the semi.

McGilvary has been England's man of the tournament with seven tries of his own, but forget any remote chance of catching Holmes on 12 to be the Tournament Top Try Scorer. He needs to concentrate more on stopping Holmes who will be odds-on in the market to Score a Try.

It has hardly been a triumphant England campaign so far. They have stuttered through group games, shown flashes of brilliance but patches full of mistakes, and yet somehow Bennett has guided them to their first final in 22 years.

His blunt ways have clearly endeared him to the players, who have built the sort of team spirit on which any sort of epic giant-killing performance is always based.

It's no coincidence that the list of most tackles made in this tournament features two Englishmen. Behind Lebanon's Alex Twai (169) and Fiji's Apisai Koroisau (164) sit Elliott Whitehead and James Graham, both on 157 each.

Like McGilvary they are going to have to make a lot more tackles on Saturday morning and hope that, in a low scoring game, somebody like Sam Burgess can conjure some magic.

England showed in the first match of the tournament, before they lost Burgess with injury, that they can give Australia a decent game. They will certainly be value to back with an 18.5 point handicap.

As for a price of [8.6] to win the trophy - well they have enough quality, and enough players based in the NRL, to make that a decent punt.

And do you know what? If they do pull it off then we might end up knowing all their names.


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