Sean O’Loughlin captained England to a 26-12 over New Zealand victory in Hull on Sunday, in the opening match of this autumn’s three-test series.
The Wigan captain was among the try scorers, whilst domestic teammates Liam Farrell, George Williams and John Bateman also impressed in a hard- fought victory that went some way towards making up for agonising defeats to the Kiwis in the 2013 World Cup semi-final and last year’s Four Nations Series.
England came back from a 10-point deficit to defeat New Zealand for the first time since 2011 and can secure the series this Saturday in a game that sees rugby league grace London’s Olympic Stadium for the first time.
Coach Steve McNamara praised the effort of his England side and in particular their strong second-half performance, but insists they still have a lot of work to do heading into this weekend’s game.
“In the first half we put ourselves under a lot of pressure,” he said.
“But we started to come back towards the back end of the half – that really set ourselves up for the second and we finished the game very strongly.
“There is a lot to work on for next week – these are tough games and with only a six-day turnaround, recovery is the number one priority right now.”
Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson opened the scoring for England to begin the comeback for the home nation before Huddersfield’s Brett Ferres crossed twice to earn the man-of-the-match accolade.
New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney praised England’s performance and admitted his side were not good enough – but he believes there is a lot more to come from his under-strength Kiwis.
“In the second half we did not execute what we wanted to,” he said.
“England put a lot of pressure on us and did a great job in defence – we’ve got a really tough challenge ahead of us
“We’ve got plenty of improvement in us though – we move to next week.”
All eyes now turn to London as this Saturday sees the second game and potential decider of the series taken to the capital.
Image courtesy of Rugby League World Cup, via Youtube, with thanks