Bennett: England are a pretty special team
England coach Wayne Bennett says the nation should be proud of their team after a gritty 18-16 win over New Zealand. The hosts took a 1-0 lead in the three-game series with the victory at the KCOM Stadium and after the match, with Bennett opening up on a range of topics.
England were missing the likes of Gareth Widdop, Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall, Luke Gale and Sam Burgess and lost Sean O’loughlin in the first half to calf injury, with Bennett delighted by depth on display.
Bennett had praise for his team and game-winner Oliver Gildart, with the debutant’s second-half try sealing the win.
The England boss was also happy with the display of Hull FC star Jake Connor as he bagged a ten-point haul which included a crucial first-half try before the break.
Connor’s try went down as a penalty try due to Dallin Watene-zelezniak going in with the knees.
It was the correct call and Bennett was happy with the decision, though he did say that he believed the refereeing from Robert Hicks overall was a mixed bag.
A TEAM TO BE PROUD OF
“It was a wonderful Test match. We are playing real Test football and the boys are giving everything they have got.
“I hope you all realise you have a pretty special football team. The English should be really proud of them. They are a great group of guys and they work really hard.
“It was a great second half and a great game. We couldn’t have given any more. We didn’t have a bad player. Everyone turned up to play for England.
“There are about ten players out that played in last year’s World Cup due to injury reasons mainly. We are building some depth which is important and we have a lot of men with desire.” “He provided a great centre’s try. He went 50 metres and beat two or three players. It was great to watch.
“He’s 21 years of age and I thought let’s just grab him now. It wasn’t a risk, it was an observation.” “Luke Thompson came on and did a great job for us. You miss your top players but it’s good when someone comes on like him and carries on. He’s a very fit guy and could play long minutes for us.
“It made Sean’s loss a lot less than it could have been.
“It was a calf muscle injury which he has had a history of. It was nothing more serious than that.” “I know this much that you are not allowed to go in with your knees. I was happy with that call.
“It was tough refereeing out there. He could have penalised a lot more than he did but he was trying to make a game of football out of it.
“Both teams were keen to play well and put a lot into it. Refereeing is never easy. We got some good calls and a few rubbish ones.” “There wasn’t a bad player out there for us. He did a great job and came up with a good try. Jake has got a bit of x-factor about him and it wasn’t an easy run to the try line.
“He had a decision to make and he got to the try-line. He did a good job on Joseph Manu and he’s a talented player.”
Oliver Gildart scores the winning try and, inset, Wayne Bennett