Leeds Rhinos: England v Scotland – Watkins is not taking ‘minnows’ for granted

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IT IS a must-win game, but Leeds Rhinos centre Kallum Watkins says England can’t take Scotland for granted.

Defeat by New Zealand in their opening match means England are already playing catch-up in the race to the Ladbrokes Four Nations final at Anfield, Liverpool, in 18 days’ time.

Kallum Watkins

Kallum Watkins

Scotland began with a 54-12 loss to Australia last weekend and are the tournament’s minnows, but Watkins feels they will pose a challenge in Coventry on Saturday evening.

“It will be a tough game,” the Rhinos man predicted.

“They made themselves very proud on Friday night especially in second half.

“They are a really tough team playing together for the first or second time, getting used to how to play with each other and new players coming in.

“They look a real good side. We have to show them a lot of respect, work on what we need to do and perform to the best we can.

“That will lead to us getting a good result.”

Watkins reckons England can be confident after their performance against New Zealand and are improving with more time under coach Wayne Bennett.

“The preparation, training and camps have been fantastic,” he said.

“You can’t discredit our effort and desire. It’s just the little things we have to be smarter on and something we need to learn from.”

England led early on against New Zealand and hit back twice in the second half to go into the final quarter all square, before Shaun Johnson won the match for New Zealand with a drop goal.

Watkins admitted the manner of defeat was “very painful for us”, but insisted: “I thought we were great in terms of effort and to get back into that game as they tried to pull away there in the second half, the boys dug deep.

“It was just a couple of little smart things that cost us.

“We should have kept the ball a little more and it might have given us more opportunities.

“There’s things to learn from. We were pleased with how the effort went, just disappointed with the result.”

Watkins felt England should have gone on with the game once Ryan Hall’s try, converted by Gareth Widdop, had levelled the scores. That is one of the lessons he admits they must take on board for the rest of the tournament, along with the importance of respecting possession and not conceding unnecessary penalties

“I think at times we just weren’t smart with what we were doing,” he added.

“They were good with what they did. In terms of go-forward they had some big fellas in the middle and they carried it up the field to get that drop goal. With 15 minutes left, there’s still chance to go win it, but they hung on and it’s just that smart stuff that probably cost us.

“The boys tried their damnedest but just wasn’t good enough in the end.”

Saturday’s game is part of a double-header with Australia also facing New Zealand at the Ricoh Arena.