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England recover to beat Scotland

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Four Nations: England 38-12 Scotland

England recovered from an awful start to win their first ever meeting with Scotland and keep their hopes of reaching the Four Nations final alive.

England must beat Australia on 13 November to retain any chance of getting to Anfield, while Scotland’s second defeat eliminates them.

Tries from Kane Linnett and Matty Russell gave Scotland a shock 8-0 lead.

But Elliott Whitehead crossed for the first two of seven England scores at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

Mark Percival, Ryan Hall, Jermaine McGillvary, Luke Gale and Liam Farrell also touched down for Wayne Bennett’s side, who had lost their opening match to New Zealand seven days previously.

Dale Ferguson added a late consolation for Scotland, who conclude their Four Nations campaign against New Zealand in Workington on Friday (11 November, 20:00 GMT).

New Zealand face Australia in the second part of Saturday’s Four Nations double-header (20:00 GMT).

A New Zealand win would leave England’s game with Australia at London Stadium a winner-takes-all contest, with the victors then facing the Kiwis in the final on Sunday, 20 November.

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Brave Scotland give England an early scare

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Scotland did not concede any points in the first 27 minutes of their match against England

No “fourth nation” has beaten England, Australia or New Zealand since the tournament was revamped in 2009 but that statistic appeared under threat when Scotland deservedly led in the latter stages of the first half.

Beaten 54-12 by Australia in their Four Nations opener, the Bravehearts – who included 11 NRL and Super League players in their 17-man squad – were buoyed by England’s shocking start and belied their status as the lowest-ranked team in the competition.

Linnett rounded off a well-executed move to establish an advantage and Russell produced a remarkable piece of athleticism for their second try.

He twisted away from McGillvary and Kallum Watkins to touch down acrobatically, although the video referee required a lengthy observation to determine that the Warrington Wolves winger had put sufficient downward pressure on the ball.

Scotland gave away several first-half penalties but England attacks were repelled until second-rower Whitehead broke through twice before half-time.

The visitors tired significantly after the interval, and the loss of captain Danny Brough to the sin-bin midway through the second period ended their hopes of a surprise win.

Williams a bright spot for England

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George Williams was part of the Wigan side that won the Super League title in October

With points difference the first separator between sides level on points in the Four Nations table, England went into the game hoping to surpass the 42-point margin of victory that Australia had achieved against Scotland eight days earlier.

However, it soon became clear that just beating the Bravehearts would be much tougher than many imagined and it was the start of the second half when they finally took control.

A huge positive for England was the performance of Wigan’s George Williams, who was selected ahead of Gareth Widdop to partner Gale at half-back.

Williams set up three of England’s first four tries, including a neat kick to send Hall over for his 30th international score, and his display means he will surely start against Australia.

Influential prop James Graham is likely to be fit for that game after missing the Scotland match because of injury.

But England were far from their best against the side ranked ninth in the world and Bennett will know that a massive improvement is needed if they are to defeat the world champions for the first time since the 1995 World Cup.

Reaction

England coach Wayne Bennett: “Just pleased with the win that is all you can say about it.

“We were bad, we weren’t good in the first 20 minutes. We got closer to what I expect in the second half.

“I want them to play to their ability and they were a way off that.”

Asked if any players had played themselves out of contention for the Australia match: “A couple of them probably have, yes.

“George Williams was good but can play a lot better than he did tonight, too.

“They have got a bit of thinking to do, they need to have a look at themselves.”

Scotland coach Steve McCormack: “I am really proud we tested them. In the second half the sin bin didn’t help but I’m really proud.

“We are playing against the best three teams in the world. We competed for long periods much better than against Australia and we expect to be better next week (against New Zealand).

“We could have tested England more. The penalty count killed us, that was a big factor. We started the game better and played some good stuff.

“England were good in the second half and showed they can play with the ball but we need to look at the penalty count.”

England: Lomax; McGillvary, Watkins, Percival, Hall; Williams, Gale; Hill, Hodgson, Taylor, Farrell, Whitehead, S Burgess.

Replacements: T Burgess, G Burgess, Cooper, Clark.

Scotland: Coote; Tierney, Aitken, Linnett, Russell; Brough, Addy; A Walker, Hood, Douglas, Hellewell, Ferguson, Kavanagh.

Replacements: Cassel, Mariano, C Phillips, Brooks.

Referee: Gerard Sutton (Australia).

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37842281