Ferres: We need to be careful

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Published: Friday 7th November 2014 by The News Editor

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England have been urged to tread cautiously as they go in search of the 10-point victory over New Zealand that would propel them into the final of the Four Nations Series.

Defeat by the Kiwis in Dunedin on Saturday morning would almost certainly mean England packing their bags for a familiar early return home as they pin their hopes on unlikely win by Samoa over Australia 24 hours later.

A win would take them level on points with their hosts but Steve McNamara’s men have an inferior points difference and victory by nine points or less would leave them sweating on the outcome of the final round-robin game in Wollongong.

“It’s a difficult one,” said England second rower Brett Ferres. “You can’t exactly go into a game thinking we need to win by 10.

“We need to go out there and perform for the 80, crack some sets off and work hard to put ourselves in a position where we can take our opportunities and get a result.”

Winger Ryan Hall admits the 10-point target has been a talking point among the players this week but insists they will not jeopardise their chances by performing recklessly.

“It’s been mentioned once or twice but you can’t look too much at that because, if we start chasing things that aren’t there, that’s where you start losing other parts of your game which you need to concentrate on,” Hall said.

“So it’s in the back of our minds but it’s not the be-all and end-all.”

The game at the indoor Forsyth Barr Stadium, where England had a light training session on Friday, would be a dress rehearsal for next Saturday’s Wellington final had Hall been awarded a try in the last minute of their agonising 16-12 defeat by Australia in Melbourne last Sunday.

The call went against the Leeds winger and that brought back memories of England’s even more heart-breaking last-minute defeat by the Kiwis in the World Cup semi-final at Wembley last November.

“It was a bit of a repeat story from last year,” Hall said.

“I had a chance of an an intercept in the last five minutes and that would have been game over, but I fumbled it and I couldn’t sleep for three months after that.

“Luckily this time I get a game the following week to put it right.”

Scrum-half Matty Smith watched that 20-18 defeat by the Kiwis a year ago from the comfort of his living room but has vivid memories of the occasion and says the England players will use it an extra motivation to get the win on Saturday.

“It obviously hurt the boys involved,” Smith said. “W hen you lose like that in the last 20 seconds, it’s gutting.

“It’s not a nice feeling and we’ll use it to motivate us this week.

“We’ve watched the video of New Zealand and we believe we can beat them. If we play anything like we did last week and get in the arm wrestle, we will push them really close.”

With the two packs evenly-matched, t he half-back duel between Smith and Gareth Widdop, playing together for only the third time, and the Kiwis’ experienced duo Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran could go a long way to determining the outcome.

It was Johnson who scored the last-minute try to deny England a place in the World Cup final and he was man of the match in New Zealand’s opening 30-12 win over Australia but Smith insists the tourists have a plan to stop the danger man.

“He is a fantastic player, one of the best in the world, but he only produces those plays if you let him,” Smith said. “I think Australia were really poor and we will be looking to close him down a lot better than they did.”

Published: Friday 7th November 2014 by The News Editor

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