Sly Fox nails down final spot for steely England
England 20 New Zealand 12
Sunday 08 November 2009
England will contest the final of the Four Nations with Australia at Elland Road next Saturday after a victory over the Kiwis that did much to banish the bad taste from last year's World Cup. Two tries before half-time from the Hull KR winger Peter Fox, in his first game of the tournament, were crucial, but it took a mighty effort from the pack to beat the world champions in what was otherwise a forward-orientated match – and none the less compelling for that.
The England coach, Tony Smith, came up with a surprise by starting with Kevin Sinfield at hooker and Sam Burgess at loose-forward – a move that smacked of getting into the Kiwis' faces from the start.
That approach was vindicated in the 10th minute when Sinfield burst away from dummy-half, Burgess carried the ball athletically past two tacklers and found Kyle Eastmond in support to dive over for a try which Sinfield converted. "Sometimes you get it right," said Smith of a ploy that he settled upon only in the last couple of training sessions.
The lead did not last long. England conceded a penalty for stealing the ball, Lance Hohaia opened them up with one of his trademark looping passes and Kieran Foran was able to exploit Fox coming off his wing with the scoring pass to Bryson Goodwin.
Goodwin was not able to convert, but levelled the scores with a penalty after Eorl Crabtree was adjudged to be hanging on in the tackle.
Fox more than made up for his defensive error in the five minutes before half-time. He was alert when Sam Tomkins improvised a lovely cross-field kick on the last tackle of a set, to claim one converted try.
Better still, he was there again in the last minute before the interval to make the lead a convincing one. Given an extra set by a Kiwi knock-on, England had the presence of mind to strike swiftly down the right, Eastmond and the debutant Chris Bridge opening the way for a comfortable touchdown.
Any thoughts that the job was done disappeared three minutes into the second half when Isaac Luke's sinuous run created the confusion that led to Ben Matulino scoring.
That left the lead looking precarious, despite there being so much to like about England's effort. Their forwards were putting in a particularly good shift and blunting the potentially destructive Kiwi pack.
The Kiwis were still in with a chance until Sinfield, a worthy man of the match, had a drop-goal attempt charged down. A ricochet gave England the ball back, and a penalty for holding on under the sticks left Sinfield in no doubt about claiming the two points and effectively clinching the precious win.
Now Australia await. "That was part of our motivation," said Smith. "We didn't do ourselves justice last time and we wanted another crack at them."
England Briscoe; Fox, Bridge, Shenton, Hall; Tomkins, Eastmond; Morley, Sinfield, Graham, Peacock, Ellis, Burgess. Substitutes used: Crabtree, Roby, Westwood, Wilkin.
New Zealand Hohaia; Perrett, Sau, Foran, Goodwin; Marshall, Fien; Nuuausala, Leuluai, Moimoi, Soliola, Pritchard, Blair. Substitutes used: Luke, Lima, Matulino, Waerea-Hargreaves.
Referee: T Alibert (France).
Regular cast member Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, is about to test TV boundaries
Latest in Sport
Fernando Alonso leaves Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel confirmed as Alonso's replacement for 2015 season
Sami Khedira: Arsenal and Chelsea target signs pre-contract with Bayern Munich - reports
Daniel Sturridge injury latest: Brendan Rodgers ready to buy a striker as setback rocks Liverpool
Amir Khan exclusive: 'Manny Pacquiao has been beaten in his last few fights, beating Floyd Mayweather would be massive'
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet
- 1 This is what the one in ten British men who pay for sex need to know
- 2 Lee Evans announces retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 3 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
G20 summit: David Cameron warns Vladimir Putin that Russia's relationship with the West is at a 'fork in the road' over Ukraine
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
Coalition government has 'shifted money from poorest to better-off' through welfare cuts and tax reductions, study claims