England 2-9 New Zealand: Steve McNamara confident of series win

By Paul FletcherBBC Sport at the Olympic Stadium
Highlights: England 2-9 New Zealand

England coach Steve McNamara is "really confident" his team will recover from their defeat against New Zealand and win the decisive third Test.

The Kiwis won 9-2 at London's Olympic Stadium on Saturday to level the Test series 1-1 before next Saturday's sold-out match in Wigan.

"We played half well today - in defence - but in the attacking half struggled to gain momentum," said McNamara.

"The result was disappointing but there is not much between the two teams."

McNamara's side won the opening Test 26-12 in Hull and took an early lead through a Gareth Widdop penalty in front of 44,393 fans.

But they failed to add any more points as New Zealand scored the only try of the game through Shaun Kenny-Dowall after the break.

The Kiwis forced 14 repeat sets as they built pressure close to the English line.

"I'm hugely proud of the way we defended for huge parts of the game and restricted New Zealand to one try," added McNamara. "But the problem was we had too much of it to do.

"Some of the errors we made were really basic and we put pressure on ourselves.

"We came here to really go for this game. That was the plan, not sit and make it happen, but the other team were pretty good as well."

'Find me a physicist'

England thought they had scored a crucial try under the posts late in the game which, if converted, would have levelled the scores at 8-8.

Australian official Gerard Sutton awarded a try on the field but sent it up for review and, after several minutes of studying the incident, the decision was overturned by video referees Phil Bentham and James Child.

They ruled that prop James Graham had not grounded the ball properly - a decision that was greeted by boos from the home crowd.

The England camp were very unhappy with the decision and afterwards Graham said: "You will have to find a physicist and ask him about downward pressure."

Chris Graham's effort was disallowed
Graham's late effort was disallowed by the video referee

McNamara added: "The referee on the field awarded it. I've looked at it a lot of times. They obviously found enough reason to disallow it. I'll have to back their judgement on that, but it was a bit strange."

The Kiwis were understandably unwilling to criticise the decision.

Co-skipper Isaac Luke said: "I was not really surprised the decision changed, in this day and age there are different interpretations."

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney felt that the call evened things up after some decisions had gone against his team during their defeat in the opening Test.

"From my point of view, I did not see complete downward movement with the hands, so, yes, that's football," he said.

"A couple of calls did not go our way last week. We were fortunate today, which makes for a share of good luck."

Kearney's bold move pays off

Earlier in the week Kearney named the starting XIII that played in Hull.

Watching his team in training, though, he decided to make a change. On Thursday he told Tuimoala Lolohea that he would not be playing at scrum-half with 21-year-old Kodi Nikorima replacing him.

Nikorima had a decent game and almost scored a try late on, but spilled the ball close to the line.

"I just got a feeling over the course of the week," explained Kearney.

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"It was a big decision in the sense that Tui had done nothing wrong, I just thought that for this game Kodi would be a better fit."

Kearney warned his team they would have to improve once again before next Saturday (13:00 GMT kick-off).

"I thought our attitude in defence was a big difference. Right from the kick-off there was a different level of commitment," he said.

"I still think England are a good footy team and we have to treat them with respect.

"Our performance from today will not be good enough next week - England will be looking to improve and it makes it a real challenge."

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