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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:46 am 
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LONDON -- New Zealand broke England hearts with a last-gasp converted try to edge their gripping Rugby League World Cup semifinal 20-18 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Tournament co-host England was 20 seconds from reaching the final until Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson slipped his counterpart Kevin Sinfield and wrong-footed last defender George Burgess to dive across the line and make it 18-18. Johnson held his nerve to slot the conversion, his fourth goal of the game, and punched the air before he was swamped by teammates. "We always back ourselves if theres enough time on the clock," Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney said. "We were fortunate." The Kiwis will defend the title in the final against favourite Australia next Saturday at Old Trafford. The Kangaroos, who have played in every final since 1957, demolished Fiji 64-0 to repeat the semifinal results from the last cup in 2008. Jarryd Hayne, who played for Fiji in the 2008 semi, scored three of Australias 11 tries against his old team. The classy Australians didnt concede a point for a third straight game, and have conceded only 22 in five matches. "Weve got a bit of pride in our defence the last few weeks," said Johnathan Thurston, who scored 10 goals and a try against Fiji. He said revenge wont be the priority in the final against the Kiwis, who shocked the Kangaroos in Brisbane in the 2008 climax. "We wont be going in there with that attitude," Thurston said. "Well be worrying about ourselves, preparing the right way. The Kiwis are a great side, its going to be a tough night for us but were looking forward to it." The first semifinal of the Wembley doubleheader, which drew about 70,000, grew into an epic from the opening kickoff. England soaked up intense Kiwis pressure, then led 8-0 before the defending champs tied the score by halftime. New Zealand went ahead 14-8, but England came back to retake the lead at 18-14 with 13 minutes to go. England was close to putting the match away, but the Kiwis were given life in the last minute by a penalty from a high tackle on Sonny Bill Williams by George Burgess. And the individual brilliance of the Kiwis trumped Englands best team effort in years. "Were bitterly, bitterly disappointed," England coach Steve McNamara said. "Its a very cruel way to finish." England barely survived a New Zealand onslaught in the first dozen minutes, when the Kiwis were denied three tries by remarkable defence. When the English turned the pressure back on the Kiwis, the forwards delivered their first try. James Graham fed Sam Burgess, who sliced through two tackles and offloaded in another for Sean OLoughlin to go over. Sinfield converted and added a penalty for 8-0 after 25 minutes. New Zealand finally replied with a try of utter genius. Kieran Foran cross-kicked on the last tackle, and wing Jason Nightingale jumped in the left corner to keep the ball in. The ball was swept right, and Luke threw a huge over-the-top pass that appeared to be bouncing over the right sideline. But Dean Whare caught the ball in mid-air over the sideline and reverse-flicked a pass straight to winger Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, who took advantage of a stunned England to score the converted try. Johnson nailed a 46-meter penalty to tie the score at the break. The Kiwis led for the first time in the 44th when England wing Ryan Hall went to intercept Kiwis fullback Kevin Locke but missed, and Tuivasa-Scheck scored his second try of the match. Johnson couldnt convert but made a second penalty for 14-8. England showed its mettle. Right wing Kallum Watkins caught the Kiwis flat-footed to cut the deficit to two, and Sinfield also delivered the final pass for Sam Burgess go-ahead try. Sinfield converted, and it was 18-14. England had the Kiwis at their mercy twice more, but second-rower Ben Westwood dropped the ball reaching for the tryline, and Hall dropped an intercept. Late penalties kept the Kiwis hopes alive in the last five minutes, and they ended up stopping Englands campaign in the semifinals for a third straight World Cup. "Im pretty devastated," Sinfield said. "The best team lost. To lose in the last 20 seconds is a killer. I dont think by any means we had the game won but I felt we were in control." .H. -- Matt Kenseth made it 2 for 2 in the Chase, holding off teammate Kyle Busch to win Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. . Two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the April 15 race in an area packed with fans cheering the passing runners. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured, including at least 16 who lost limbs. . -- Brandon Jennings made the most of his first game with the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night. . The formidable trio of Canadian receivers -- individually known as Chris Getzlaf, Rob Bagg and Andy Fantuz -- will share the field at Mosaic Stadium one more time on Sunday. . Each of Houstons starters scored in double figures as the Rockets improved to 2-0 against the Spurs this season, with both victories coming on the road. They also moved within 3 1/2 games of San Antonio (22-7) for the lead the Southwest Division.MONTREAL -- Albertas Val Sweeting improved to 6-2 at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Wednesday thanks to a 9-5 victory over Newfoundland and Labradors Heather Strong. Sweeting scored two in the first and three in the second before Strong (4-4) got two back in the fourth. Sweeting then scored three in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh to grab a commanding 9-2 lead. Strong replied with three in the eighth but that was as close as her rink would come. In other Draaw 11 results, New Brunswicks Andrea Crawford kept pace with a 9-6 win over P.ddddddddddddE.I. Crawford improved to 5-3, while Kim Dolan fell to 2-6. B.C.s Kesa Van Osch is also at 5-3 after a 6-5 victory over Quebecs Allison Ross (1-7). Meanwhile, Nova Scotias Heather Smith (3-5) picked up a 7-3 victory over Sarah Koltun of Yukon-Northwest Territories (1-7). Canadas Rachel Homan still tops the standings at 6-0 and was set to meet Van Osch in Draw 12 later Wednesday. ' ' '


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