Ryan Hall crossed in one of the last plays of the match but was judged to have not grounded the ball in the must-win clash for both teams in Melbourne. 

The World Cup champion Kangaroos, beaten in their opener against New Zealand, were then able to run down the clock and claim an unconvincing win. 

In historic jerseys Australia had taken the lead through a try from Michael Jennings but England, who went close to beating their rivals in their World Cup opener, hit back with tries to Kallum Watkins and Hall.

Ben Hunt scored on debut for Australia before Greg Inglis appeared to have secured the win before Hall crossed for the controversial no try. 

“I thought it was a try but we probably need to have a lot closer look at that,” England coach Steve McNamara said. 

His Australian counterpart Tim Sheens said the reaction of Hall, which was minimal, was better evidence than the several minutes of replays for the video referee. 

“Had it been a try, I think Ryan Hall would have been celebrating but he wasn’t,” he said.

England must now beat undefeated New Zealand, who scraped past Samoa on Saturday, by at least 10 points to make the final in Wellington.

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