venue: KC Stadium, Hull
12th November 2011
Full Match Report
GILLETTE 4 NATIONS – GAME 5
England reached the final of the Four Nations after a tremendous victory over world champions New Zealand at the KC Stadium.
Hull winger Tom Briscoe set the home side on their way with a try in the corner and Ryan Hall added another.
Although England dominated, Jason Nightingale pulled a try back for the away side to give the Kiwis hope. But further scores from James Graham and Sam Tomkins meant England set up a final with Australia at Elland Road.
After the disappointment of 2009, when England were comprehensively beaten 46-16 by the Kangaroos, they have the perfect opportunity to settle the score and win the Four Nations for the first time.
Even though they will go into the game as favourites, the Australians will need to be wary of an England side that took apart New Zealand with ease. In addition to the four tries, Kevin Sinfield was excellent with the boot, recording a 100% conversion rate.
The hosts had a let-off two minutes into the game as full-back Tomkins failed to cope with a high Benji Marshall kick. Scrum-half Kieran Foran touched down for New Zealand but the try was ruled out by the video referee for offside.
The visitors were dishing out some heavy hits, particularly targeting Tomkins. Jeremy Smith went on report after dropping an elbow onto the face of the Wigan man, but the Kiwi was fortunate not to have suffered more severe punishment from the referee.
England put pressure on the New Zealand line, foraging for an opening to break the deadlock, and both Ben Westwood and Kirk Yeaman went close but the visitors' defence held firm.
Tomkins' pace and fleet-footedness was causing the opposition problems, his 60m dash after sneaking into a narrow gap in the New Zealand backline eventually halted by scrambling Kiwi defence.
Despite having most of the possession in the first 25 minutes England failed to notch any points, but the pressure finally paid.
New Zealand were penalised for an off-the-ball tackle on centre Jack Reed and from the resulting penalty, the hosts switched the ball with quick hands and Yeaman fed Hull team-mate Briscoe, who dived over in the corner for the game's first try. Sinfield added the conversion.
The Leeds captain popped over a penalty just before half-time, after Isaac Luke cynically twisted Rangi Chase's knee, as Steve McNamara's men deservedly led at the break.
England made the perfect start to the second half. Ryan Hall is making a habit of squeezing in for tries from impossible angles and the Leeds man did it again.
Sinfield's high kick was snapped up by Reed, who offloaded the ball to Westwood, and Hall finished the move with precision, as he did against Australia at Wembley, sneaking in at the corner despite the attention of Foran.
New Zealand talisman Marshall was trying to spark his team into life and saw Briscoe as the weak link in the English defensive line, but the try-scorer was equal to Marshall's testing grubber kicks.
However, the Kiwis were determined to hit back and after a sweeping move, quick hands saw the ball reach the Australian-born Nightingale to score in the corner.
The home side were resilient though, and caught New Zealand on the counter. Briscoe snatched the ball and raced upfield and with the visitors' defence in trouble Graham took advantage to score.
England put the icing on the cake as Jamie Jones-Buchanan escaped the grasp of a tiring New Zealand backline and fed Tomkins, who went in under the posts.
Sinfield kicked his sixth goal and set up a date with old foes Australia in Leeds next week.
Tomkins, Hall, Reed, Yeaman, Briscoe, Sinfield, Chase, Graham, Roby, Peacock, Wilkin, Westwood, Heighington, Carvell, Jones-Buchanan, Morley, Widdop
Locke, Beale, Brown, Mannering, Nightingale, Marshall, Foran, Matulino, Leuluai, Packer, Manu, Blair, Smith.Taylor, Glenn, Waerea-Hargreaves, Luke