England and New Zealand prepare for Four Nations decider

 

Hull's KC Stadium will be no place for the faint-hearted tomorrow evening when England and New Zealand do battle for a place in the Gillette Four Nations final.

It is a winner-takes-all clash after the first two rounds left England level pegging with the Kiwis, with both having defeated Wales and lost to Australia, and remarkably they also have the same points difference.

However, New Zealand's superior points percentage means they need only a draw to go through to a meeting with the Kangaroos at Elland Road tomorrow week and all the pointers are for a closely-fought contest.

There has been just one draw in England's nine previous meetings with the Kiwis but in 2004 only two points separated Great Britain and New Zealand at the KC Stadium, with the hosts squeezing through to the Tri Nations final.

The Kiwis were also on the wrong end of a 20-12 scoreline in the corresponding match of the 2009 Four Nations at Huddersfield and Ryan Hall, who was an ever-present in that series, believes England can draw on the experience.

"In 2009 we did exactly what we needed to. Now we've got to do it again," the Leeds winger said.

"We've matured a bit in rugby terms since then and, having done that, it gives us a bit of experience."

England will be encouraged by their battling 36-20 defeat by Australia at Wembley, where they were distinctly out of luck, while New Zealand have quietly gone about their business so far, ominously ready to peak when it matters.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney knows the KC Stadium well, having had a season with Hull FC in 2005, but New Zealand have lost on both their previous matches there.

In addition to their 26-24 loss to Great Britain in 2004, they suffered a crushing 44-0 defeat there during their ill-fated 2007 Test series.

Jamie Peacock, Gareth Ellis and James Graham all featured in what was Britain's record win over the Kiwis on home soil and their fitness could be crucial to England's chances.

England will need at least two of their most experienced forwards to recover from injuries sustained against Australia but the loss of any one of them will be keenly felt.

Unusually, coach Steve McNamara has yet to announce his team, which is not a good sign, but he is confident over the outcome of tomorrow's match.

"We've improved each week throughout the tournament without doubt and I'm sure we'll see some more improvement this week to get us over the line," he said.

"There's a lot at stake. We need to play with a lot of passion and a lot of control at the same time.

"If we get that mix right, we will be a tough side beat but we're up against a Kiwi team that has been very successful in the last four years."

McNamara could yet field the same team for a fourth consecutive match but, whatever selection he makes, one player guaranteed a spot is Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield, who will be playing in his 40th match of 2011.

Sinfield, who was man of the match playing at hooker in that 20-12 win over the Kiwis in 2009, has been in exceptional form during the second half of the season, despite his remarkable workload.

"He looks after himself as good as anybody and that's probably why he can do what he's doing at this moment in time," McNamara said.

"His influence on this team, as I've said right from the start, is very, very big.

"He's played in three different positions throughout this tournament and his performance hasn't diminished in any of those positions. He's a very good professional."

Fewer than 3,000 tickets remain unsold, raising the prospect of a full house at the 25,000-capacity stadium.

"There has been a lot of awareness in the fixture since the competition began but it has taken on a new level during the past week and it will be fantastic to see the sides take to the pitch in front of a near-capacity crowd," RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said.

PA

Suggested Topics
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Life and Style
life“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice