England

Australia continues Ashes domination

Smith struggled to contain his glee when the coin fell his way for the first time this series, guaranteeing the hosts first use of a flat pitch as they seek to further embarrass England after reclaiming the urn in Perth.

Warner pummelled England's beleaguered attack in the morning session, scoring 83 from 94 balls as Australia raced to 102-0 at lunch.

The hosts managed just 43 runs in the middle session, when Warner benefited from a no-ball reprieve on 99.

Australia regain the urn

Seamer Josh Hazlewood finished with a five-wicket haul as England were bowled out for 218 before tea at the WACA, four years after Alastair Cook's side meekly handed back the urn at the same venue, and with the same humiliating 3-0 scoreline.

Play was delayed by three hours by damp patches on the pitch and rain squalls throughout the morning, but it was not enough to save England as they lost their last six wickets for 85 runs.

"So many different emotions are coming out right now, I'm that excited," Australia skipper Steve Smith said.

England's $233m RWC plan

A record war chest of more than £120 million (NZ$233.5m) is to be invested in the professional game over the next two years and the RFU has given the green light to the "detailed and comprehensive plans" of Jones for the build-up to the tournament in Japan.

Expenditure on professional rugby in England soared last year by over 50 per cent to a record £63.7 million ($124 million). Investment going into the 2015 World Cup was £44.3 million ($86.2 million).

England lose O'Loughin for World Cup final

The inspirational loose forward suffered a quadriceps strain against Tonga but hasn't recovered in time. Sam Burgess will skipper the side, a role he performed during the 2016 Four Nations, with Ben Currie starting and Jonny Lomax moving to the bench.

Kangaroos don't buy Bennett's mind games

Bennett made the statement after England’s narrow 20-18 semi-final win over Tonga but Kangaroos prop David Klemmer said those kind of mind games won’t engender any complacency in the Australian squad.

Klemmer insisted Bennett would instil belief in the England squad that they could upset the host nation. 

Wonderful Widdop stars again

Better known as a five-eighth these days, Widdop's return to his former position has been one of the major positives for coach Wayne Bennett's side so far and in Auckland he laid on two of England's tries against Tonga and scored the other, causing constant issues with his evasive running.

Tongan comeback falls just short

Trailing 20-0 with eight minutes remaining, Tonga produced an incredible comeback to score three tries in five minutes, and were denied a fourth on the final siren, to fall agonisingly short of booking an historic World Cup Final berth.

Four-pointers to Tevita Pangai Junior, Siliva Havili and Tuimoala Lolohea sent the 30,003-strong crowd at Mount Smart Stadium into mayhem, and very nearly saw Tonga continue their incredible unbeaten run.

Time for England to address ball control

The Wayne Bennett-coached side have completed at below 80 per cent in three of their four games so far, culminating in a sloppy effort in last week's 36-6 quarter-final victory over Papua New Guinea, where they completed just over half of their 46 sets.

Tonga has sights on another tier-one scalp

Sio Suia Taukeiaho credits their success to the overwhelming support from their fans.

“Them just signing their songs gave us goose bumps. That's probably one of the reasons why a few of the boys left other countries to come play for Tonga because we know the fans will always turn up.”

It was a jovial Tonga who turned out to training on Mount Smart number three, with the boys from the Pacific believing that they can claim another tier-one nation scalp.

England through to semis after scrappy win

Despite this afternoon’s 36-6 win over the PNG LNG Kumuls, Wayne Bennett’s England only completed 25 of 45 sets.

The Kumuls were dealt a mighty blow 90 seconds into the match when captain David Mead came off second best after a try saving tackle on England’s Luke Gale.

After surviving early raids from the English, the Kumuls went on the counter-attack and came agonisingly close to drawing first blood after Kato Ottio dropped a bomb in the in-goal.

Repeat sets to England produced the first points with Jermaine McGillvary flying over on the wing.