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Kiwis prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves contained by the England defence.

Ahead of the second week of matches in the 2016 Four Nations, writers discuss how crucial last week's 17-16 win for New Zealand over England will be for both team's chances.

Dominic Brock ( Production Editor): England fought hard but came up just short against New Zealand in their first Four Nations game after Shaun Johnson came up with an intercept try and a field goal. Were you surprised by the result, or either team's performance? 

Andy Bryan (Deputy Editor): We all tipped England to win from memory, they had enough chances to do just that.

DB: Ahem, almost all of us.

Chris Kennedy (National Correspondent): Not surprised, personally. I tipped England but I thought it would be close and a couple of key moments would decide it so in that sense it panned out roughly as expected. 

AB: Certainly surprised by the penalty goals and when they were kicked.

Martin Gabor (National Correspondent): I thought their halves failed to take control in the key moments.

Adrian McMurray (Producer): I tipped a Kiwis victory, but England looked like they were good for a win in the early stages. They had more than their fair share of chances to win it, but execution at key moments let them down. Big time.

Jack Brady (National Correspondent): England blew it. They had multiple chances to take control and failed to capitalise at almost every turn. 

AM: How good are penalty goals, by the way?


CK: Both teams stuttered a bit in attack and could reasonably be expected to improve. England did the worse job at taking their chances, otherwise I thought they were the dominant team for much of the game.

MG: Josh Hodgson was at his scheming best but didn't get enough support when it mattered most.

CK: What do we put that down to? Widdop was great in the warm up game and had some nice touches against NZ. Gale and Lomax are both inexperienced at rep level but can obviously play.

JB: Widdop has struggled all year to take control. Like Moylan against Scotland, you can't read into his form when England played France.

DB: OK, now the big question – are England still any chance of winning the tournament (or making the final)?

CK: Very, very long odds. They'd have to beat Australia and I can't really see that happening on current form of both teams.

MG: They shan't be playing at Anfield. 

AB: Tough ask. Need to hope Kangaroos come out a little disjointed after mass changes from the first game or perhaps a little bruised after their clash with New Zealand this weekend.

DB: Jack, you predicted last week England would be the one team to beat Australia – have you changed your mind there? 

JB: What do you think?

DB: Ha

JB: However, Wayne Bennett was pretty confident the only way is up for his men. There were plenty of promising signs. Their wingers were class. James Graham was on fire. 

The form of all three Burgesses is a concern though.

DB: I believe it's "Burgi".

CK: Sam had some big moments. Just looked to be trying a bit too much, not unlike his club form this year.

MG: I think Sam fell victim to trying to do much. You can't knock a bloke who is so desperate to win that he wants the ball all the time. That's where the halves have to step up and over-call him.

JB: Or he could stop throwing balls between his legs. (Imagine if Tony Webeck was here? He'd never talk to me again.)

AM: They certainly can take it to the Kangaroos, but I don't think they've got enough to beat them. How each coach handles the occasion might just be as intriguing as the on-field action as well.

AB: They've shown they can compete with Kangaroos for 60 minutes in the last few Four Nations clashes over there. But they'll need to 'go the whole 80' to beat the Kangaroos. We are all assuming they'll be much better against Scotland yeah?

CK: They should put a score on Scotland. Maybe a confidence boost might turn them around.

MG: I'm expecting them lead 26-0 at HT against the Scots and coast home in the second stanza. 

DB: Let's turn to the Kiwis. They did well to bounce back from a poor performance against Australia in Perth last month to beat England. Can they match the Kangaroos this week? Or if not this week, in the final?

JB: Potentially no Nightingale, Leuluai or Waerea-Hargreaves doesn't help. 

AB: They'll need to improve to beat the Kangaroos.

CK: They probably need everything to click and then would still need the Aussies to be slightly below par. 

AB: Having said that, it wasn't long ago they had the wood on the green and golds.

MG: Never say never, but I don't think they'll get the chocolates this weekend.

AB: You said it twice in the same sentence.

JB: He's just a big Justin Bieber fan.

MG: Actually a James Bond fan. Never say Never Again (1983) classic film.

AM: There's still a few quality players that could come in as well... Greg Eastwood, where you at?

CK: And Watene-Zelezniak for Nightingale.


AB: The last few games have been pretty dour between the two countries – are we expecting that to continue or will this game open up?

CK: I don't think the formula will change much from Perth. Close and a bit dour early and Aussies to skip away late.

MG: I think we will see a few more points this time around. The combinations should have gelled by now.

Also, horrible news for Josh Mansour. Wish him all the best in recovery. But it does mean that both Holmes and Ferguson will play 

AB: It's a big loss - he offers so much!

CK: How do NZ beat Australia, if it happens? I'd expect they'd need a healthy dose of Johnson magic with Jesse Bromwich, Proctor, Harris and co to play out of their skins. I'm just worried about the support for Johnson in the playmaking stakes with Leuluai and Kahu in the spine.

JB: Te Maire Martin. Come on down.

DB: Yep, probably needs to be a low-scoring game with Johnson creating some magic out of nothing. Like the England game.

AB: Keep it close and come up with a play in the final 10 minutes. 

MG: They need some inspired performances from guys like Kata and SKD to get them on the front foot and to give the big guys a breather.

CK: Kata was immense in Perth and SKD won't play that badly again probably in his career. It's a powerful 3/4 line, probably moreso if DWZ comes in

DB: Fingers crossed for a quality game. OK, I think it's time to wrap it up now before Jack starts making more Justin Bieber references. Cheers guys.



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