The five best knockout games in World Cup history

The Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals are only hours away, kick-starting the last three weekends of a brilliant competition. Love Rugby League has been trawling the archives to find the tournament’s best ever knockout games. Here’s what we’ve come up with…


2008 Final: New Zealand 34, Australia 20

Holders Australia started as red-hot favourites in Brisbane, with league legends Darren Lockyer, Greg Inglis, Petero Civoniceva and Cameron Smith in their ranks.

But Benji Marshall produced a stunning display for the Kiwis, Billy Slater came up with a monumental cock-up for the Kangaroos and video referee Steve Ganson awarded a penalty try after Joel Monaghan took out Lance Hohaia in an off-the-ball challenge.

Suddenly the Kiwis were world champions and Aussie coach Ricky Stuart was forced to resign after verbally abusing referee Ashley Klein the following morning. Strewth!


2000 Semi Final: Australia 46, Wales 22

On a cold Sunday night in Huddersfield, Wales came close to causing one of the biggest shocks ever seen in world sport.

Steered superbly by Iestyn Harris, Lee Briers, Paul Highton and Keiron Cunningham, they led 20-8 after 27 minutes and 22-14 early in the second half.

Ian Watson and Kris Tassell both scored for Wales before Briers added a third try.

They could have been even further ahead had Anthony Sullivan managed to gather an interception attempt.

Instead the Aussies rallied, with Brad Fittler and Darren Lockyer both scoring twice as the Kangaroos recovered – but only just.

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1995 Semi Final: Australia 30, New Zealand 20

Australia went on to win the 1995 World Cup, but they were only inches away from losing in the last four when Matthew Ridge’s drop goal attempt shaved the wrong side of the post in the final minute of normal time.

Ridge’s effort would have put the Kiwis through to the Wembley showdown with Australia, but instead the scores stayed level at 20-20 and forced the game into extra time.

Steve Menzies was among the scorers for the Kangaroos as they escaped from Huddersfield with their World Cup dream still intact.


1992 Final: Australia 10, Great Britain 6

More than 73,000 fans packed into Wembley to witness the 1992 decider, but most went home disappointed after Steve Renouf’s try gave victory to Australia.

Mal Meninga kicked three goals for the Kangaroos and Deryck Fox repeated the same feat for the hosts in a tough, uncompromising battle that was low on flair but high on guts and determination.

Brad Fittler played most of the game with a broken jaw after being hit high by Martin Dermott and Fittler’s bravery typified the clash.

Eventually a mistake by John Devereux late in the second half allowed Renouf to mark his international debut in fine style and Australia clung on for glory.

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1972 Final: Australia 10, Great Britain 10

Forty one years after Mike Stephenson’s try snatched a draw for Great Britain and with it World Cup glory, 1972 remains the last time a northern hemisphere team won the Rugby League World Cup.

Clive Sullivan’s long-range try is one of the most iconic images from the match in Lyon, but it was Stephenson’s effort seven minutes from full time that proved crucial.

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