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England 16-17 New Zealand: We must ‘learn’ how to win

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Highlights: England 16-17 New Zealand

Coach Wayne Bennett said England must learn how to win after a 17-16 defeat against New Zealand in their opening Four Nations match.

Shaun Johnson kicked the winning drop-goal as the defending champions edged a tense Test match in Huddersfield.

Australian Bennett, taking charge of his first England game on home soil, said: “I’m disappointed in the result but not the effort.

“The difference was a little bit of smarts. Everything else was there.”

  • England lose to Kiwis by single point
  • New Zealand’s win over England as it happened

England lost to a last-gasp try against the Kiwis at Wembley in the semi-final of the 2013 World Cup, and a series of poor decisions and play execution proved costly at a sold-out John Smith’s Stadium.

England surrendered an early 4-0 lead, and at one point trailed 12-4, but battled back to level at 16-16 before man of the match Johnson’s decisive score.

Asked what England are missing after losing another tight encounter, Bennett said: “It is a learnt thing and we have got to learn how to do it.

“We have a history of not doing it and it is part of the process. You’ve got to hope that is what I bring.

“It was a quality game of football and we were in it right until the end.”

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England’s progress impresses Bennett

England might have lost, but Bennett has been impressed with the progress shown by his team during the two weeks since he flew in from Australia.

His first game in charge was a comfortable 40-6 win over France in Avignon last weekend, and his team now have a week to prepare for their Four Nations match against Scotland in Coventry next Saturday.

“Things have come a long way,” Bennett said. “You’ve got to remember that we’ve just had two weeks together.”

The match was Sam Burgess’s first as England captain, and his first since returning to the game from union.

He said: “You’ve got to understand the situation we are in. We have improved a hell of a lot in two weeks, and we have still got a couple of weeks before we play Australia.”

England end their round-robin series of games with a match against the Kangaroos in London on 13 November – and their defeat by the Kiwis means they are likely to need to win that to reach the final.

Errors cost us – Burgess

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Sam Burgess, right, earned his 15th cap for England

Burgess said unforced errors from his team allowed New Zealand to edge a tight Test.

The 27-year-old, who was returning to the ground where he made his international debut in 2007, brought his players in to a huddle at the end of the match.

“We had a chat together on the field and said that the effort was there,” he said.

“The character we showed gives us confidence and belief. We are looking at improving on a daily basis and not getting too ahead of ourselves.

“They did well to win the game. It is international rugby league and we gifted a couple of tries – that is one or two too many at this level and made it tough.”

‘The most pleasing thing was our defence’

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Johnson drop goal seals New Zealand win

New Zealand hosts started particularly strongly, although their territorial advantage did not yield a first-half try.

Head coach David Kidwell said: “It was an outstanding performance. The most pleasing thing was our defence – that’s something we stand for.

“I thought England came out firing and we knew we had to build up our sets and make sure we had a high completion.”

Analysis

Kevin Sinfield, former England captain

The battle’s lost but the war’s not over. It’s still all there for us. We won that second half 12-11.

We had opportunities. We didn’t play the Aussie way or the Kiwi way; we played the English way and threw the ball about.

It’s a number of years since England have beaten Australia, but we’re going to do it at some stage. Why not this year? We have the quality in this team to win.

Robbie Hunter-Paul, former New Zealand international

At the crucial times, New Zealand made the right decisions and showed a bit more experience than England did.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37812467