Australia test excites McNamara

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Published: Sunday 26th October 2014 by The News Editor

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England coach Steve McNamara says his side will relish the opportunity to put Australia out of the Four Nations series.

While England survived a major scare at the hands of newcomers Samoa, winning 32-26 in the first part of Saturday’s double-header at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, the Kangaroos went down to a surprise 30-12 defeat by New Zealand in the match that followed.

It means if the Kiwis avoid defeat by Samoa in Whangarei next Saturday, Australia will need to beat McNamara’s men in Melbourne 24 hours later to keep alive their hopes of reaching the November 15 final in Wellington.

“It’s a really exciting prospect,” admitted McNamara.

“We said we’d take it one game at a time and now we’ve got the Samoa game out of the way and the two points in the bag.

“We’re going to have to be really on our guard next week but beating Australia in Australia is what it’s all about. We know the prize at the end of that. If we can do it, it gets rid of Australia.”

McNamara knows his side will need to find a marked improvement against a Kangaroos side fighting for their lives after twice falling behind to the Pacific islanders in a pulsating opening to the series.

England led 20-10 early in the second half thanks to tries from Michael Shenton, Kallum Watkins and Liam Farrell, but two tries in a seven-minute spell from replacement hooker Pita Godinet gave the Samoans the sniff of a shock victory on their tournament debut.

However, towering kicks from debutant scrum-half Matty Smith resulted in fortuitous touchdowns for the Tomkins brothers, Sam and Joel, and England survived a late onslaught to claim the precious win.

“We’ll have to improve absolutely everywhere,” McNamara said.

“Ball control for one, that’s a major one for us.

“But I can’t stress too much how pleased we are. It’s always tough coming across here and playing a tough Samoa team first was always a banana skin.

“It was their final. We needed to find a way to win and I’m delighted we did.

“We’ve had a pretty short preparation and I think it puts us in a good position to move forward for the rest of the tournament.”

Sam Tomkins was England’s hero, in attack and defence, but the new faces Smith and Daryl Clark provided fresh encouragement for the tourists.

Hooker Clark, the newly-crowned Man of Steel, made a fairytale start to his international career, carving out the game’s first try for his Castleford captain Shenton with a trademark run from dummy half with his first touch of the ball.

“It was good to make an impact,” Clark said.

“That’s what you try to do when you come off the bench and it was nice to see Shenny going over for a try.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking beforehand but, once I got on and into the game, it felt pretty comfortable. Samoa are a big physical side and it was a step up to what I’m used to.

“Overall it was far short of what we’re capable of but it’s two points. There is a lot of room for improvement and we’ll look to do that next week.”

Smith, who quickly settled into his half-back partnership with Gareth Widdop, said: “Obviously we weren’t at our best but it was the first time the group has come together.

“We’ve got to fix things up a little bit. We’ve got to complete better than we did and there were a few defensive errors where we let them in for some soft tries.

“They’re a good team and they’ll give New Zealand a game next week.”

While Australia monitor the injury to scrum-half Daly Cherry-Evans, England expect to have skipper Sean O’Loughlin back to face the holders after sitting out the opening game with a calf strain.

“Hopefully Sean will be available for selection and everybody else will be available as well,” McNamara said.

“We’ve got an eight-day turnaround so we’ve got a bit of time to get ourselves organised.”

Published: Sunday 26th October 2014 by The News Editor

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