x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Sculthorpe tips England to triumph

The former Great Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe has backed England to win today's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Brisbane.

The former Great Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe has backed England to ease the pressure on beleaguered coach Tony Smith by winning today's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Brisbane. Smith has been heavily criticised in the wake of his side's lacklustre performances so far in the tournament, as England edged past minnows Papua New Guinea 32-22 in the opening group game before being thrashed 52-4 by Australia and then tamely surrendering a 24-8 lead to lose 36-24 against the Kiwis last Saturday.

But Sculthorpe said: "It's knock-out rugby now and it's all up to the England players to perform. "They know they are better than what they've showed so far in the tournament and there's no doubt that they have got to pick their game up and play for the entire 80 minutes. "England proved in the first half on Saturday when they led 24-8 that they are capable of beating New Zealand and I don't think for one minute that it is a good Kiwi side either.

"The Australia defeat was massively disappointing, but they have to turn it around and play like they are capable of." * PA Sport