More to come from England: McNamara

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Published: Saturday 25th October 2014 by The News Editor

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England coach Steve McNamara is confident his side can build on their hard-fought 32-26 win over Samoa in the opening match of the 2014 Four Nations Series.

The tourists were twice forced to come from behind to avoid an embarrassing defeat at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, but McNamara says there were plenty of positives ahead of their next match against Australia on Sunday week.

‘We had to dig ourselves out of some dark places,” McNamara said at the post-match news conference. “It was a real tough game but a win for us.”

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 Pacific Islanders the sniff of a shock victory on their tournament debut.

However, towering kicks from 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.

England’s acting captain James Graham said: “All credit to Samoa, they made it tough for us. We need to improve and we will next week.”

McNamara said he expected England to start the tournament slowly after handing out four new caps and being unable to arrange a warm-up fixture because of the short time span between the end of the domestic season and the start of the international programme.

“I’ve got to say, I knew that sort of game was coming,” McNamara said. “We’re practically a brand new team.

“We’ve travelled from one side of the world to the other. We’ve had nine days to get ready in what were pretty extreme conditions for Englishmen against a Samoan team that I thought were really, really good.

“They hardly made an error all game, they had us under a lot of pressure.

“We’ve been in these situations before, we’ve been on the wrong end of the result, but we’ve got so much improvement left in us – hopefully – and we know we’ll need to do that for next week.”

Graham said the 64th-minute try controversially awarded to Joel Tomkins was a turning point in the match.

He said: “We had to hang in there at times and come up with some big plays. Tomkins’ try off the bomb when Shenty (Michael Shenton) knocked it back, that was a huge play for us and credit to the boys for coming up with them.

“For 80 minutes we weren’t perfect, but we showed a lot of good signs there. This isn’t an excuse, but we’ve been together a week less than other teams with the Super League Grand Final going a week later.”

Published: Saturday 25th October 2014 by The News Editor

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