x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Smith goes from crisis to crisis

The England coach Tony Smith cast a subdued figure as his team's World Cup campaign continues to lurch from one crisis to another.

The England coach Tony Smith looks dejected after losing the match against New Zealand at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
The England coach Tony Smith looks dejected after losing the match against New Zealand at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

NEWCASTLE // The England coach Tony Smith cast a subdued figure at the post-match press conference as his team's World Cup campaign continues to lurch from one crisis to another. A hollow victory was followed by a humiliating defeat, and now Smith must pick up the pieces from an extraordinary collapse that handed New Zealand a 36-24 victory and a big psychological advantage going into next Saturday's semi-final.

Even the normally optimistic coach struggled to find 'positives', after England frittered away a 24-8 lead. For the second successive week, Smith's men produced a shameful second-half display - and the coach admitted the mood in the England dressing room was worse than after last week's 52-4 hammering by Australia. Yet, in spite of themselves, England are still in the tournament and they could yet force a re-match with the world champions in Brisbane.

Smith was still clinging to the theory that one good performance could yet rescue England's World Cup campaign. "We've got one more shot at it - and if we do well there, we find ourselves in a cup final," he said. It took New Zealand until the 71st minute to take the lead, but they were on such a roll by then that the result became a foregone conclusion. "It was very disappointing, and we're angry about it," said Smith.

"We're angry with the second half and we've got to get angrier and make sure those things don't happen. You've got make sure when you get in a position you go on with it." * PA Sport