A BOSS STEVE McNamara reckons England can – and must – improve on yesterday’s 26-12 win over New Zealand.
England will go into Saturday’s second Test, at London’s Olympic Stadium, just one win away from a rare series triumph.
And McNamara said: “I’m pleased with the result, it’s nice to go 1-0 up in a three-Test series. There’s a lot of improvement left in us, but I’m pleased to get up and running and on the board. To show the resilience to come from 10-0 down to post four tries and win the game was impressive.”
The Kiwis dominated the opening stages, before England rallied to finish with 20 unanswered points
“The start certainly wasn’t what we expected,” McNamara conceded.
“I’m not sure why that is. We need to look into that for a number of reasons.
“At the start New Zealand dominated us physically, but we got a foothold back in it for the last 10 minutes [of the opening period] which created a platform for us in the second half
“I thought it was a huge improvement in the second half, but the reality of it is there’s lots of areas we need to work on.”
The England coach was delighted with the contribution of his substitutes, particularly Dewsbury Moor product Tom Burgess.
“I thought the four players on the bench turned the game,” he said. “They did a great job so huge credit to them. They got us going forward and that’s what benches are there for. Tom was incredible, he should be one of the stories of the night. I wouldn’t say he was unstoppable, but they found him tough to deal with in attack.”
New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney accepted England were the better team, after his side’s positive start.
He said: “We didn’t match their intensity in the second half. We made it hard for ourselves, but saying that I thought the English, especially in second half, were very impressive with their defensive effort.”
England’s second try came moments after the Kiwis had a touchdown controversially ruled out.
“I wouldn’t say that [the disallowed try] was the defining moment,” Kearney insisted. “I thought we had 40 minutes in the second half to rectify that – and we might get that call next week.”