Rugby League World Cup: England stand-off Gareth Widdop laments missed opportunity after gut-wrenching semi-final defeat to New Zealand

New Zealand's Shaun Johnson scored with 21 seconds left on the clock before converting his try to send the defending World Champions through to the final and eliminate the hosts

England's gut-wrenching World Cup defeat was tough on all 17 players, but for Gareth Widdop it was especially cruel.

The 24-year-old was forced to bide his time throughout the preliminary stages of the five-week tournament as coach Steve McNamara persevered with Rangi Chase but he got his big chance in Saturday's semi-final against holders New Zealand at Wembley.

The Halifax-born NRL stand-off seized his opportunity, too, but it was all in vain after Shaun Johnson's try 21 seconds from the end condemned England to a 20-18 defeat and cut short Widdop's run in the team.

"It's been tough the last few weeks, being in and out of the team," Widdop said. "It was great to play at Wembley against the Kiwis but it's disappointing.

"We worked really hard and to get beat the way we did was really disappointing. I haven't played much footie over the last few weeks but I was happy with the way the team and I played.

"It just wasn't good enough in the end. Everyone is absolutely gutted because our World Cup dream is over. It was our game there. In these big games, you can't switch off. We played really well, tried hard and we deserved to get the win.

"This was a massive opportunity and it's been and gone."

England led 8-0 thanks to Sean O'Loughlin's early try and, after winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck struck twice to nudge New Zealand in front, they stormed back with their best rugby of the tournament, scoring tries through Kallum Watkins and man of the match Sam Burgess.

But the Kiwis had the final say when Johnson went over for his side's third try in the last move of the match to tie the scores and added the conversion to break England hearts.

New Zealand's third consecutive semi-final win over England sets up the predicted showdown with Australia at Old Trafford on Saturday. All general tickets have been snapped up but the Rugby Football League says hospitality packages are still available.

Meanwhile, the RFL is to launch a detailed review of every element of England's operation and performance, including the position of head coach Steve McNamara who is now considering his future after his contract ran out following Saturday's defeat.

"When you are a coach of a national team it is a huge privilege and honour and I have really, really enjoyed the time," McNamara said.

"It would be very difficult to relinquish it, but at the same time, I have to sit back and reflect and decide which way my career is going to go from now on.

"The England job is a very prestigious one and one I'm really thankful I've had the opportunity to do. We'll see."

PA

 

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all