Leeds Rhinos Bygones: Sinfield revels at hooker as England edge out the world champions

Kevin Sinfield
Kevin Sinfield
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KEVIN SINFIELD revelled in the unfamiliar position of hooker as the Leeds Rhinos captain earned man of the match for England against the world champions at Huddersfield.

He was pivotal against New Zealand as they secured a narrow win that set up a Four Nations final appearance versus Australia.

Sinfield’s 71st minute penalty settled a bruising and, at times, brutal Test match while former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats winger Peter Fox scored two tries. Leeds’ Jamie Peacock captained England from the second-row while fellow Rhino Ryan Hall was on wing with former Headingley stars Gareth Ellis and Adrian Morley also included.

Young Bradford Bulls star Sam Burgess, shortly before his move to South Sydney, packed down at loose forward while Sam Tomkins and Kyle Eastmond – despite both being just 20 years-old – controlled matters from the halves.

Sinfield’s inclusion at dummy-half, though, was a masterstroke from his former Leeds coach Tony Smith as it enabled more craft, guile and kicking options to enter his team. Sinfield had never really flourished at international level, struggling to hold down a place at either half-back or loose-forward, but this was perhaps his best display to sate.

He was instrumental in England’s opening try for Eastmond before Tomkins up the first of two tries for another newcomer, the Hull KR wing Fox, to give England an 18-6 half-time lead.

The Kiwis charged back within two minutes of the second half for Ben Matulino’s try to cut the margin to 18-12 and they knew a draw would take them into the final, eliminating the hosts.

They enjoyed long periods of dominance, too, only for England’s defence to continually hold firm.

Therefore, when Sinfield’s attempted drop goal and Adam Blair fouled Shaun Briscoe, the hooker was gifted a simple kick for his fourth successful goal.

“It’s a real shot in the arm for the game in the northern hemisphere, and for the Super League,” said Smith, whose England team had badly failed in the previous year’s World Cup. The players are really pleased to make the final, but it’s not done yet.”

It wasn’t; Australia prevailed, again, at Elland Road.

STATS

England 20

(Tries: Fox 2, Eastmond. Goals: Sinfield 4.)

New Zealand 12
(Tries: Goodwin, Mautilino. Goals: Goodwin 2.)

four nations . huddersfield, November 7, 2009

England: S Briscoe (Hull KR); Fox (Hull KR), Bridge (Warrington), Shenton (Castleford), Hall (Leeds); Tomkins (Wigan), Eastmond (St Helens); Morley (Warrington), Sinfield (Leeds), Graham (St Helens), Peacock (Leeds, capt), Ellis (Wests Tigers), Burgess (Bradford). Subs: Roby (St Helens), Crabtree (Huddersfield), Westwood (Warrington), Wilkin (St Helens).

New Zealand: Hohaia (NZ Warriors); Perrett (Sydney Roosters), Foran (Manly), Sau (Newcastle), Goodwin (Canterbury); Marshall (Wests Tigers, capt), Fien (St George Illawarra); Nuuausala (Sydney Roosters), Leuluai (Wigan), Moimoi (Parramatta), Soliola (Sydney Roosters), Pritchard (Penrith), Blair (Melbourne). Subs:

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