Struggling England vow to bounce back - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Struggling England vow to bounce back

By Robert Grant 27/10/2008 06:07:00 PM Comments (0)

England are confident of engineering a dramatic form turnaround to challenge Australia in their rugby league World Cup clash at Telstra Dome on Sunday.

The Lions escaped with a 32-22 win against Papua New Guinea at the weekend while Australia justified their tournament favouritism with a comfortable 30-6 win over New Zealand in Sydney on Sunday night.

England coach Tony Smith said his side would have to improve markedly if they were to be competitive against the Kangaroos, but claimed they were also looking beyond the Telstra Dome clash.

"It's not just a week (long) tournament, it's over a period of time so we'll keep on improving throughout the tournament. That's been one of our aims and we'll do that," Smith said.

"We're working on our deficiencies and some areas that we weren't as good as we needed to be and even in some areas that we were good at but we were just a bit below par.

"It's all about making sure our strengths are up to speed and exploiting weaknesses where they are in the opposition and we'll do that throughout the week.

"We're happy with what we're doing and the way we're progressing and we know what we want to achieve here. The Australians are the favourites and deservedly so and good luck to them.

"But we'll be looking at their weaknesses, don't worry about that. We're not going to not look at their game."

Smith described his team's sluggish performance against PNG as "okay, just okay".

England looked headed towards an embarrassing first-up defeat when they trailed 16-12 at the interval before running away with the contest with four second-half tries.

"It's good to get that one out of the road, it's a few weeks since some of the players played - some of them hadn't played since our grand final ... so a few cobwebs there," Smith said.

"It's the first time these guys have been together for a little while too, so we were a bit below par."

The shining light from the tournament opener was the performance of winger Lee Smith, who marked his Test debut with a hattrick of tries.

But Smith remains in doubt for the match against Australia after picking up a leg injury against the Kumuls.

"We'll monitor him through the week and make sure that if he's fit and healthy he'll play and if not he won't play - we're not willing to risk anybody," Tony Smith said.

Meanwhile backrower Gareth Ellis said the Lions had the ability to bounce back, and admitted the squad was quietly confident of causing an upset.

"We were pretty disappointed with how we played, it wasn't the start we'd like to have gotten off to but it just gives us a chance to look at the game now and improve on a number of aspects," Ellis said.

"We definitely fancy ourselves - we're here to do a job and we're confident we can do that."

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