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England coach Wayne Bennett was a content man despite his side going down 18-4 in the Rugby League World Cup opener against Australia on Friday night in Melbourne.

England only trailed by eight points late in the match, but Josh Dugan's runaway try sealed the Kangaroos' victory with a minute to play.

"I was pretty happy with it overall actually," he said. 

"A really top effort by the guys and a real Test match. We've improved a lot since London (12 months ago)."

Bennett was happy with his side's determination and how they handled some pressure moments.

"Just the way they stuck at it a couple of times when they got into tricky situations, hung in there really good and played some good football," he said. 

"A lot of their errors they reduced. It's still not where they want to be, but a huge improvement."

The master coach agreed that their execution let them down at certain stages of the game. He stressed he was more focused on their improvement throughout the World Cup.

"It was probably execution, just making good decisions, making sure the pass went to the right guy. But that's okay. It's the first game. Tonight wasn't the destination, just a part of the journey. We remind ourselves of that, and the next four or five weeks to get these little things right.

"The biggest challenge is getting the bad habits out of them. Compared to here and London there was no comparison."

England captain Sean O'Loughlin also lamented some errors at key times but was upbeat with his team's performance.

"I think we matched them reasonably well all over the park, it was just as Wayne said, a few errors that cost you these in big games, that cost you against these good sides. We coughed a little bit of ball up in the first half, and a few penalties on the back of them.

"We got our fair share of the ball in the second half, defended a little bit better but didn't quite get over the line. Towards the end we were chasing and they got that break away try."


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