1985 - 1988: Australia
1985–1988 Rugby League World Cup
The ninth Rugby League World Cup saw yet another change of format. The competition was stretched to cover almost three years (1985 to 1988), with teams playing each other on a home and away basis. These matches were fitted into the normal international programme of three-match test series between the nations, with a pre-designated match from each series counting as the world cup fixture.
The competition was further altered by the addition of a new nation, Papua New Guinea. The Kumuls performed creditably, particularly when playing in the front of their fiercely patriotic home crowd. Conversely, France were unable to fulfil their 1987 tour of Australasia due to financial difficulties, and had to forfeit away fixtures against Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
The final group stage match between New Zealand and Great Britain being a sudden death battle for a spot in the final, Britain needing only a draw. In the event the Kiwis came through 12-10, and went on to face Australia in the final at Eden Park, Auckland.
The final attracted one of the highest ever crowds for a rugby league match in New Zealand of 47,363. Unfortunately for them, home advantage was not enough for New Zealand, who went down 12-25 to the seemingly invincible Australians.
Australia 25 - 12 New Zealand
October 9th 1988
Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Graham Ainui (Papua New Guinea)
Australia: Jack, Shearer, Farrar, McGaw, O'Connor, Lewis (C), Langer, Dunn, Elias, Roach, Sironen, Miller, Pearce. Subs: Lamb, Gillespie
Tries: Langer 2, Shearer, Miller. Goals: O'Connor 4. Field Goals: Elias
New Zealand: Mercer, T Iro, K Iro, Bell (C), Elia, Freeman, Friend, Brown, Wallace, Shelford, Graham (C), Sorensen, Horo. Subs: Cooper, Stewart
Tries: T Iro, K Iro. Goals: Brown 2
1985 - 1988 World Cup Results
New Zealand beat Australia: 18 - 0 at Auckland. Attendance: 19,000
Great Britain drew with New Zealand: 6 - 6 at Elland Road, Leeds. Attendance: 22,209
New Zealand beat France: 22 - 0 at Perpignan. Attendance: 5,000
France drew with Great Britain: 10 - 10 at Avignon. Attendance: 5,000
Australia beat New Zealand: 32 - 12 at Sydney. Attendance: 22,811
Papua New Guinea beat New Zealand: 24 - 22 at Port Moresby. Attendance: 15,000
Australia beat Papua New Guinea: 62 - 12 at Port Moresby. Attendance: 17,000
Australia beat France: 52 - 0 at Carcassonne. Attendance: 3,000
Great Britain beat France: 52 - 4 at Headingley, Leeds. Attendance: 6,567
Great Britain beat Papua New Guinea: 42 - 0 at Wigan. Attendance: 9,121
France beat Papua New Guinea: 21 - 4 at Carcassonne. Attendance: 5,000
Great Britain beat Papua New Guinea: 42 - 22 at Port Moresby. Attendance: 12,077
Great Britain beat Australia: 26 - 12 at Sydney. Attendance: 15,994
New Zealand beat Papua New Guinea: 66 - 14 at Auckland. Attendance: 8,392
New Zealand beat Great Britain: 12 - 10 at Christchurch. Attendance: 8,525
Australia beat Papua New Guinea: 70 - 8 at Wagga Wagga. Attendance: 11,685
* Awarded two points in lieu of France's non-fulfilment of fixtures in the southern hemisphere.