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Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Saturday, 23 October 2010 12:16 UK

England rue cost of slow start against New Zealand

James Graham

Graham rues poor start in defeat

England captain James Graham said his side paid the price for a slow start as they went down 24-10 to New Zealand in the opening game of the Four Nations.

England started poorly and trailed 18-0 soon after half-time but two tries in two minutes raised hopes of a comeback.

"We spoke at half-time about getting back into it but we left a mountain too big to climb," said Graham.

"We started to come back in the second half. Maybe if one or two decisions had gone our way it'd have been different."

In last year's Four Nations, England went 26-0 down to Australia at Wigan before fighting back to lose 26-16, and Graham admitted they had failed to learn the lessons from that experience.


"Thinking back to the game at the JJB last year, you can't afford to give quality sides that sort of start in Test match rugby," he said.

The Kiwis dominated the first half, with Junior Sa'u and Lance Hohaia scoring and Shaun Kenny-Dowall adding a third after the break.

A quick double by James Roby and Gareth Widdop dragged England back into the game before Kevin Brown had a try disallowed, and almost instantly New Zealand scored again though Benji Marshall to kill off hopes of a famous comeback.

Benji Marshall

NZ skipper pleased with aggression

Brown's try was ruled out for pushing on New Zealand's Greg Eastwood, and England coach Steve McNamara said it was harsh on his team.

"It was a 12-point turn-around," he said.

"We'll have a look at it but I don't want to be make too many rash statements while emotions are running high.

"We feel we can do a whole lot of things better so we won't worry too much about that one right now.

"We got caught a little bit cold at the start and it cost us. Certainly there are some areas of our game we want to look to improve on but I thought we worked tremendously hard to fight our way back into the game.

McNamara 'optimistic' despite defeat

"We spoke about a few things at half-time. We increased the intensity in the second half and were a pretty good team.

"I thought we looked dangerous, particularly when we got some momentum at the ruck and made New Zealand look a bit flat and tired."

New Zealand winger Manu Vatuvei will miss the rest of the tournament after breaking his arm just two minutes into the game as he tried to tackle England centre Michael Shenton.

"It's very sad for Manu," said Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney.

"It didn't look like a great deal in the tackle but he's come out of it with a broken arm."

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see also
New Zealand 24-10 England
23 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
NZ skipper pleased with aggression
23 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Tomkins fit for England's opener
21 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Fresh doubts over Tomkins fitness
20 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Hooker Leuluai named in Kiwi side
20 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Graham named as England captain
18 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Hayne ruled out of Four Nations
18 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Morley ruled out of Four Nations
17 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
New Zealand Maori 18-18 England
16 Oct 10 |  Rugby League

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