Four Nations: England's character in Samoa win pleases McNamara

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England coach Steve McNamara praised his side for digging their way out of "some dark places" to beat Samoa in their Four Nations opener.

England, who are third favourites to win the tournament behind Australia and New Zealand, held on for a thrilling 32-26 victory in Brisbane on Saturday.

Samoa led 22-20 until tries from Joel and Sam Tomkins in the last 16 minutes.

"We had to dig ourselves out of some dark places. It was a real tough game but a good win for us," said McNamara.

England go to Melbourne next week to face hosts Australia, who suffered a shock 30-12 defeat against New Zealand, knowing a win will put them on the verge of a place in the final.

And after last year's narrow World Cup semi-final defeat against New Zealand, McNamara feels there is still much more to come from his players.

"We've been in these situations before, we've been on the wrong end of the result, but we've got so much improvement left in us - hopefully - and we know we'll need to do that for next week," he added.

Remaining Four Nations fixtures
1 November: New Zealand v Samoa (Whangarei, New Zealand)
2 November: Australia v England (Melbourne, Australia)
8 November: New Zealand v England (Dunedin, New Zealand)
9 November: Australia v Samoa (Wollongong, Australia)

"I was pleased with the whole group and we all know we can play a lot better than that.

"To overcome adversity and tough periods in the game, you just can't buy that sort of experience."

Prop James Graham led the side in the absence of new captain Sean O'Loughlin, who missed the game with a quad injury.

The former St Helens man was satisfied with the performance against the Pacific Islanders.

"For 80 minutes we weren't perfect but we showed a lot of good signs," he said.

"It would have been awful to lose, you don't want to come away from any game having lost. We have got the first week out of the way and we will look at Australia at the start of the week."

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