Tomkins seals England's final date with Australia
England 28 New Zealand 6
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Sunday 13 November 2011
England reached the final of the Four Nations with a stirring display characterised by the right mix of enterprise and discipline, clinical finishing and the ice-cool kicking of Kevin Sinfield.
The Leeds captain landed six goals from six attempts – five of them well out towards the touchline – and was a deserved man of the match here. But everyone had played their part in a stirring victory over the world champions which sets up a collision with Australia at Elland Road next Saturday.
"When it's needed, Kevin comes up with the goods," said his coach Steve McNamara. "The way he's leading us at the moment is very, very good, but everyone did their job."
McNamara called his side's performance "controlled, measured and efficient", with a special nod towards his youthful back three of Sam Tomkins, Ryan Hall and Tom Briscoe, all of whom scored tries.
The Kiwi coach, Stephen Kearney, accepted the loss of their title: "We just didn't perform tonight – but England showed a lot of discipline."
England had a let-off in the first three minutes when Kieran Foran touched down from Benji Marshall's kick, only for the chasers to be ruled offside by the video referee. The rest of the first half, however, belonged to the home side.
Hall and Ben Westwood both went close to getting across the try-line before a brilliant run from Tomkins put the Kiwis under further pressure. Their goalline defence held until the 28th minute when, after Sinfield had become the latest player to be held just short, play went to the left through Rangi Chase. The former Hull KR man Jon Wilkin came into the line and the Hull FC pairing of Kirk Yeaman and Briscoe did the rest.
Sinfield landed the conversion from the touchline, and then a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Isaac Luke fouled Chase in the tackle.
Early in the second half Hall, who finished so superbly at Wembley, did the trick again. Sinfield kicked for the corner, Jack Reed won it in the air and Westwood channelled it back to Hall, who once again had the power to get the ball down just inside the corner flag. Better still, Sinfield kicked another fiendishly difficult goal.
The Kiwis looked more urgent and dangerous, but the English defence was as solid as New Zealand's had been. England finally cracked after 61 minutes when Marshall shifted play to the right flank and Jason Nightingale squeezed in as forcefully as Hall had done.
Marshall added a fine conversion and the Kiwis had the scent of a famous fightback, which faded slightly when Sinfield put over a penalty for Marshall's high tackle on Tomkins. Briscoe's ball steal and gallop led to the clinching try. Somehow Simon Mannering got back to tackle him, but the defence was still struggling to regroup when James Graham slid over, with Sinfield on the mark again.
Finally, Chase put Tomkins under the posts for Sinfield to complete a flawless evening's work.
England Tomkins; Hall, Reed, Yeaman, Briscoe; Sinfield, Chase; Graham, Roby, Peacock, Wilkin, Westwood, HeIghington. Substitutes used Widdop, Morley, Jones-Buchanan, Carvell.
New Zealand Locke; Beale, Brown, Mannering, Nightingale; Marshall, Foran, Matulino, Leuluai, Packer, Blair, Manu, Smith. Substitutes used Luke, Wharea-Hargreaves, Taylor, Glenn.
Referee Matt Cecchin (Australia)
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