England’s rugby league stars begin their Four Nations campaign by taking on New Zealand at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield on Saturday. So what has England’s form been like in the run-up to the event and how strong are the Lions in comparison with the other teams competing for the famous rugby trophy?
England v New Zealand Rugby League – What Can Fans Expect to See?
The Four Nations is one of rugby league’s most significant tournaments and this year’s event is likely to a thrilling one. The England v New Zealand tie, which kicks off at 14.30 on 29 October, is set to be an intriguing battle, as both teams have much to gain from a win.
The Lions were in great form in their warm-up tie against France last weekend, humiliating their opponents on home ground by 40 – 6. While the first try of the match was scored by France’s Eloi Pellisier, the Lions hit back 27 minutes into the game to score four within the space of 13 minutes: two of these came from Ryan Hall, while Daryl Clark and George Burgess were responsible for the others.
Tries from Kevin Brown, Jermaine McGillvary and Gareth Widdop, and a goal from the latter added points to the Lions’ tally to seal the win. Despite the scoreline, however, the response of Wayne Bennett, England’s head coach, was understated: “I wasn’t disappointed. I thought we handled it pretty well without blowing them away,” he told the BBC.
New Zealand, on the other hand, suffered a decisive defeat in their warm-up match against Australia, with the Kangaroos winning by 26-6. Commenting on the Kiwi’s performance during the tie, which took place at the nib Stadium in Perth, on 15 October, the Guardian’s Paul Connolly said: “Their kicking was awful.”
“Time and again they failed to complete their sets, and often they handed the ball over the Australia on the last after running a play that no-one seemed to know a thing about,” he wrote.
However, as he also pointed out, the New Zealand squad hasn’t played for a while, so they may not be as easy to defeat when they get into the swing of things. Following such a recent loss to their traditional rivals, they are also sure to want to make a statement in their opening tie.
The 2016 Four Nations – A Quick Guide to the Tournament
The Ladbrokes Four Nations tournament runs from Friday 28 October until Sunday 20 November 2016. The opening tie takes place tonight at the Lightstream Stadium in Hull, where Scotland will be hoping to defeat Australia and make Four Nations history; if they triumph, they will be the only country other than England, Australia and New Zealand to have won a Four Nations match.
England v New Zealand takes place in Huddersfield the following day, while Saturday 5 November will be packed with rugby action, as England will be taking on Scotland, and New Zealand will be hoping for payback against Australia, at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
On Friday 11 November, New Zealand will be playing Scotland at the Zebra Claims Stadium in Workington, while England will face Australia on Sunday 13 November at the London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The climax to this year’s tournament takes place a week later, when the two finalists battle for the trophy at Anfield, Liverpool Football Club’s home ground.
Are you going to be at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield to watch England v New Zealand? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook, or add a comment.