LEEDS RHINOS winger Ryan Hall believes England can still win the Ladbrokes Four Nations.
Hall was among the try scorers as England’s campaign began with a costly 17-16 loss to New Zealand at Huddersfield.
The Kiwis are now favourites to meet Australia in the final at Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium on Sunday, November 20 and England are faced with having to beat Scotland in Coventry on Saturday and Australia at the Olympic Stadium eight days later to keep their hopes alive.
It is a tall order, but Hall felt there were encouraging signs as England hit back from 12-4 and 16-10 down to level the scores before Shaun Johnson’s drop goal won it for New Zealand.
“It was a massive game,” said the Leeds man. “There’s only three games [for each team] in the league stage and each win or loss is massive.
“We’re hoping to get to the final so two wins could get us there. They’re in front of us a little bit now and we have to play some really good stuff in the rest of the tournament to try and get to that final.”
Hall insisted England’s approach will not change. He added: “We knew before the tournament started it was going to be a challenge.
“We wanted to get four from four, but obviously that’s not the case any more, but we’ll be trying our best to get three from four.”
Hall’s spectacular one-handed finish got England back in the game midway through the second half and set up conversion attempt for Gareth Widdop which levelled the scores.
The Leeds man admitted he felt England would kick on after his try.
He said: “Things were looking positive at that point, but the Kiwis found a way to get down our end and stick that one-pointer over.
“It’s happened not exactly that way before, but it has happened in the past where we’ve been in a good competitive game and just fell away at the last and not come away with the win.”
Hall’s try came from what he described as a “remarkable” pass by Widdop.
“I said that as soon as I got up,” Hall said. “I don’t know how he did it, but that’s why he’s England’s number six. He is a good player and has set me up for a couple of tries in the past, but that’s up there as one of the best.”
On a personal level, Hall admitted he would have liked more ball. He reflected: “That was dictated by how the game was. In the first half they had so much ball in our half. For a winger to get involved like that, it’s hard so my carries will be down on my normal amount I’d do for Leeds.
“So I am a little bit disappointed in myself, but sometimes you have to reassure yourself it’s out of your control and just have to do best you can with what’s in front of you.”
England did have an opportunity to snatch the game after Johnson’s drop goal, but centre Dan Sarginson – playing outside Hall – spilled the ball close to the line. Hall refused to blame the Wigan man.
He said: “Just little things like that that have let us down today and have done in the past.
“We just have to keep banging the drum and keep going and we will get the rhythm eventually of how to win these Test matches.
“It’s little things like that that let us down, but I think he deserved his spot did Sarge for what he did with Wigan at the end of the season.
“That’s why he got the nod and we have to have faith in him.”
Scotland were beaten 54-12 by Australia in their opening game, but Hall insisted Saturday’s clash is not a formality.
“All their players are good players,” he said. “I’ve played against the majority of them in Super League and they have a couple from the NRL to bolster the ranks.
“They’ll be a little disappointed getting 50 on them, but I don’t think Scotland like England. History tells us that. We’ll be expecting a good Scotland team.”
l New Wakefield signing Scott Grix scored a brace of tries and clubmate Liam Finn – who played alongside him in the halves – kicked eight goals for Ireland as they qualified for next year’s World Cup with a 70-16 win over Russia in Bray.
Hunslet’s Danny Ansell made his Wales debut when coach John Kear’s team also qualified by beating Italy 20-14 in Monza.
Wakefield’s Anthony Walker was among Wales’ try scorers.
Russia will face Italy at Leigh on Friday to decide the 14th and final place in next year’s tournament.