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|Four Nations Set For Three-year Break|
|Topic Started: Oct 21 2011, 08:18 AM (113 Views)|
|stacey||Oct 21 2011, 08:18 AM Post #1|
New Zealand celebrate their 2010 victory
The Four Nations Series has grown from humble beginnings and, despite making tangible progress over the last eight years, will go into cold storage until 2014 after this year's November 19 final.
It began as something of a trial venture in 1999 as a Tri-Nations, with Great Britain going Down Under to take on Australia and New Zealand.
But there was little appetite for international rugby league in springtime Australia and Britain's performances did little to change the minds of the sceptics.
The writing was on the wall for Andy Goodway's men when they only narrowly defeated Burleigh Bears in their warm-up match.
Britain were duly despatched with embarrassing ease by both the Kangaroos and the Kiwis and were forced to undergo the indignity of playing a curtain-raiser to the final in Auckland against the Maoris.
Australia pipped their hosts 22-20 in a thrilling final at Ericsson Stadium in front of a 22,500 crowd thanks to Wendell Sailor's late try.
It was five years before the big three tried again and the revival of the Tri-Nations Series was largely down to the prompting of Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett, an avid fan of the international game who flew to London to attend the launch.
The teams played each other twice, starting in Auckland where the Kiwis and Kangaroos fought out a 16-16 draw, but Britain eventually topped the table after gaining two wins over New Zealand and beating Australia in Wigan.
Brian Noble's men had raised expectations to a new level but they were ruthlessly swept aside by the Darren Lockyer-inspired Kangaroos at Elland Road, where they raced into a 38-0 half-time lead.
The 2005 series also began Down Under, with Australia and New Zealand meeting each other in Sydney and Auckland with honours shared before flying to England.
Great Britain lost their opening games against their visitors but grabbed themselves a lifeline with a record 38-12 win over the Kiwis at Huddersfield where Brian Carney scored a brace of tries and Paul Deacon sustained an horrific facial injury.
Australia ended the hopes of Noble's men with a 26-14 win at Hull but they suffered a shock 24-0 defeat to Brian McClennan's team in the Elland Road decider, thus bringing to an end their 27-year reign as world champions.
The 2006 tournament was held in Australia and New Zealand and was full of controversy and incident.
New Zealand beat Great Britain in Christchurch but were subsequently docked the two points for fielding an ineligible player, Nathan Fien, in their opening two matches.
Noble's men then took full advantage of their unexpected opportunity to reach the final by beating Australia 23-12 in Sydney, where Sean Long produced his finest performance for his country.
It was Britain's first win on Australian soil for 14 years but the match is best remembered for the swinging punch that knocked out Stuart Fielden and earned Willie Mason a one-match ban.
The series was suddenly wide open but Britain went on to suffer heavy defeats in their last two games and Long left the camp for personal reasons, leaving Australia and New Zealand to again contest the final.
Australia won it 16-12, but only after the game went to golden point extra time, with Lockyer scoring the crucial try.
Great Britain were divided into the home nations for the 2008 World Cup and stayed that way for the expansion to the Four Nations the following year, when the tournament was hosted by England and newcomers France.
This time the teams played each other just once. The French were competitive in parts under new coach Bobbie Goulding but did not win a game, while England, now under Tony Smith, qualified for the final thanks to a 20-12 win over the Kiwis.
The emergence of young guns Sam Burgess, Kyle Eastmond and Sam Tomkins gave England genuine hope going into the Elland Road decider and they three times held the lead before conceding 24 points in the last 14 minutes.
It was a familiar tale of woe for England when the 2010 series was hosted by Australia and New Zealand, where James Graham was pressed into service as a third-choice captain in the absence of Jamie Peacock and Adrian Morley.
Held to a draw in their warm-up matches by Cumbria and the Maoris, Steve McNamara's men were no match for either the Kiwis or the Aussies and had to be content with a consolation victory over Papua New Guinea, who earned their place at the top table by winning the 2009 Pacific Cup.
New Zealand lost 34-20 to Australia in their group game in Auckland but once more turned the tables in the final, Benji Marshall inspiring them to a 16-12 victory at Suncorp Stadium, the stage of their 2008 World Cup final triumph.
With a break for the 2013 World Cup, the Four Nations will resume in 2014 in the southern hemisphere before switching to the northern hemisphere in 2015.
1999: New Zealand 20 Australia 22 (Auckland).
2004: Great Britain 4 Australia 44 (Leeds).
2005: Australia 0 New Zealand 24 (Leeds).
2006: Australia 16 New Zealand 12 (Sydney).
2009: England 16 Australia 46 (Leeds).
2010: Australia 12 New Zealand 16 (Brisbane).
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