I’ve been very critical of England for a very long time, I’ve give my opinion on changes that needed to be made, and so when those changes have come into being, I shouldn’t be surprised by Englands improvement.
England beat New Zealand 20-12 in a good old fashioned test match!
New Zealand started well and the first half was brilliant, however the second half was a scrappy affair and I felt there was a couple of major issues in this game.
First of all the pitch.
In 2009 we should not be having to play Test matches on a slippery, clay like surface. The Huddersfield pitch was terrible, it always is, its more like moss than grass and players slipping around all day is rubbish to watch.
Second, and most importantly, the referee.
It was a French referee who is part of the Super League referee rotation. That doesn’t actually mean much, because he was just as horrible as most referee’s you see in Super League.
He allowed so much lying on the play the ball, dangerous grapple tackles and head high tackles, a terrible ten meters and off side players from mid range kicks…..its a disgrace we have to put up with this shit at the highest level of the game.
Why can’t we just get the best referee’s to contract the best games. I don’t care where they come from, but we can not keep having these refereeing issues where some teams want terrible officials to try and jag wins, and other teams just want someone competent.
England played well, they would have won the game anyway, but these two issues over shadowed the game for me.
New Zealand started off well but really lost their way. They were not helped by the performance of Lance Hohaia who was terrible under the high ball while Bronson Goodwin showed a lack of experience out wide.
You always got the feeling the Kiwi’s would come back, the problem was they just didn’t.
I thought that the conditions really hurt the Kiwi’s more than England. It negated their mobility and endurance advantage and I think undxer the high ball it cost them too.
Down in Australia and New Zealand, the grounds are a lot firmer. It allows players to get a good jump for the high ball. On this pitch in Huddersfield, like a lot of English grounds, you find that holding your footing is the better option a lot of the time.
It also killed Benji Marshalls running game. I can’t blame him though, when you go to step and just slide five meters like your running on ice, its a bit ridiculous.
As for England, a lot to like!
A felt the halves combination that I called for worked well. I think Tomkins is more of a halfback personally though. At standoff he tends to run across field too much looking for runners. At halfback he is more direct, it straightens up his kicking game and he is more careful with his passes.
Eastmond didn’t direct the play a great deal, he is more of a ball runner. Swap those two and its a great combination, Smith won’t be dropping these two any time soon.
The English forwards did ok but were helped by the conditions and the referee. I know there will be a lot of chest thumping about their forward pack after this win, but it is not warranted.
I was really impressed with the English backline, they are only young and very inexperienced but boy did they stand up in this game.
When you consider this backline is completely different from the World Cup backline, its a crying shame it took so long for England to drop so many of the losers they stuck with for so many years.
Sinfield played well from hooker, I think he gets a bad rap from English fans, many of which hate him because of the club he plays for, but the kid is a tryer! He gives them a bit of variation around the middle of the field and England needs that badly.
New Zealand have no excuses for this one. To go from winning last years World Cup to falling out of a place in the finals like this is pretty bad.
Make no mistake, they are still the World Champions and no matter what happens next week, New Zealand is the number one team in the world.
As for England, they face a battered, off the pace Australian side next week.
What chance does Australia really have???
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
Aug 15, 2019 0