Four Nations: Wayne Bennett says England are better than they think

Media playback is not supported on this device

Highlights: England 18-36 Australia

England lack the self-belief to compete with the world's best teams, said coach Wayne Bennett after a 36-18 Four Nations defeat by Australia.

The chastening loss at London Stadium ensured the host nation failed to reach the final of the tournament.

Bennett said his side "self-destructed" at times during Sunday's game.

The Australian added: "Right now, they don't believe. They just have to realise how good they can be - they don't get that part unfortunately."

England, who needed to avoid defeat to qualify for next Sunday's final at Anfield, led 6-2 after half-an-hour against the tournament favourites.

But they gave away a series of needless penalties and failed to make the most of the openings they created during a frustrating afternoon for Bennett and his team.

By the mid-point of the second half they trailed 28-6, and they conceded six tries in total.

"They have to recognise what is beating them," said Bennett. "They have got to fix it in their daily habits and they have got 12 months before the World Cup to fix it.

"There's lots of talent, they can play, the problem is that they have to learn to compete at this level under pressure."

Media playback is not supported on this device

Bennett says England do not believe in themselves

'The gap isn't all that big'

England lost their opening Four Nations match 17-16 against New Zealand but defeated Scotland before losing by 18 points against the Kangaroos.

It was England's 11th straight defeat against Australia but, despite criticising aspects of his players' performances during the tournament, Bennett was insistent the gap between the sides is not all that big.

"I have enjoyed being with the players immensely," added the 66-year-old, who was taking charge of England for the first time at the Four Nations. "They are great blokes to be around.

"It makes me more frustrated than ever, angry even in my case, because they are not showing how good they can be.

"They are not that far behind. I cannot fault them off the field, they have just got to get it right on the field.

"They are very capable and a better team than a lot of people realise. I thought there would have been a lot more issues when I took charge."

Four Nations table

'The scoreline flattered us'

Australia will face New Zealand in the final after winning all three of their round-robin games.

However, skipper Cameron Smith felt the scoreline in London flattered his team.

"It was a high-quality game and England were very good," said the Melbourne Storm hooker.

"We had to come up with some special plays to get points against them. The scoreline did not reflect the contest.

"The gap is not widening, it might look that way but it was fairly tight through the whole 80 minutes."

Sam Burgess, who plays in Australia, swapped shirts with an opponent after the game
England captain Sam Burgess (right) plays his club rugby in Australia

Analysis

Former England utility player Jon Wilkin, speaking to BBC Sport on Facebook Live:

Australia are world class and will win the Four Nations in style against New Zealand next week.

Half-back Cooper Cronk was sensational today, while the packs pretty much cancelled each other out.

Was the venue an issue? There were 35,000 people in the London Stadium, and the atmosphere was OK.

Maybe we can look at that and play to our strengths. I know we need to promote the game, and spread the game to the south, but we need to do what's best for the national team.

For coach Wayne Bennett, there were some real thought-provoking moments in the game. The question remains how England unlock the southern hemisphere teams.

Mirror journalist Gareth Walker believes Australia possess one of the greatest ever teams
Mirror journalist Gareth Walker believes Australia possess one of the greatest ever teams

Former Great Britain coach Brian Noble on BBC One:

There is room for improvement for England. You have to move pieces forward, you might get beaten initially in a game of chess but you hope it starts a winning game.

Hopefully, coach Wayne Bennett's principles of the 'smarts' and the things he has spoken about come to fruition. He clearly said he needs time with the players.

Former dual-code international Jonathan Davies on BBC One:

Australia did the softening-up period. They did the hard work, the had graft and hard yards, coupled with the good kicking and chasing.

They put the pressure on England in the right areas of the field and then turned on the style.

Top Stories