England know they must beat Scotland and world champions Australia to have any chance of being involved in the final at Anfield.
ENGLAND are facing the likely prospect of having to defeat both Scotland and Australia to progress to the Ladbrokes Four Nations final after losing 17-16 in their opener against New Zealand at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield. The Australia game is beginning to dominate the horizon already as England plot a remapped route to the final but the challenge Scotland provide will not be underestimated.
Johnson intercepted an unnecessarily risky pass for the vital first score after the interval and England fullback Jonny Lomax hardly covered himself in glory with a missed tackle for Rapana’s second touchdown.
Australian Bennett, taking charge of his first England game on home soil, said: “I’m disappointed in the result but not the effort”.
Bennett must now decide whether to make changes to his side, possibly bringing George Williams into the halves and maybe Mark Percival or Stefan Ratchford, who offer an attacking threat, into the backs.
Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich said they would take plenty of motivation out of the win, especially surviving some early England dominance in the opening 20 minutes. The final takes place at Anfield, the home of English soccer giant Liverpool, on November 20.
Lizzie Jones’ stirring rendition of Jerusalem was followed by the national anthems and the Kiwis’ traditional haka.
With the excitement surrounding Sam Burgess’ return and the appointment of Wayne Bennett as coach, confidence was high in England following the 2-1 series win over the Kiwis a year ago.
It looked extremely promising for them as England started with a objective and intent that the Kiwis seemed unable to match.
New Zealand did not have to wait much longer to register the game’s first try, Rapana finishing a flowing cross-field move in the right corner, and things got worse for England at the start of the second half when Johnson telegraphed a Widdop pass and raced over from 70 metres for a score that Kahu converted.
Jordan Rapana crossed twice, with Johnson adding a third as well as slotting the crucial field goal.
With the Kiwis extending their lead to 12-4, England hit back in the 48th minute through winger Jermaine McGillvary thanks to a handy Elliott Whitehead cut-out ball.
Shaun Johnson dives in to score a try during the the Kiwis’ win over England. Widdop expertly swung the conversion between the uprights.
One of his aims is to return to London to face Australia on Sunday, November 13 in the penultimate match of the tournament at the London Stadium.
Then the home side was level after Widdop’s overhead flick-on flew to left wing Ryan Hall, who held off the defence to plunk down his 29th try in 29 tests.