England 29-10 Lebanon: Wayne Bennett reflects on first World Cup win

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Rugby League World Cup 2017: England 29-10 Lebanon
Rugby League World Cup on the BBC
Venues: Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea
Dates: 27 October to 2 December
Coverage: Watch live coverage and highlights on BBC TV, Connected TV, online & the BBC Sport app and listen to live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra.

England coach Wayne Bennett says his side "lost their way" in the 29-10 World Cup win over Lebanon.

Tries from Kallum Watkins, Jermaine McGillvary, Ryan Hall and Ben Currie put England in control in the first half but it was one try apiece after the break, with Tom Burgess crossing.

England recorded their first win of the competition but Bennett says they need to be more consistent.

"We are expected to win these games," said the legendary Australian coach.

"Part of our journey is to be more consistent. We are not a good enough team to turn it off and turn it back on. We lost our way in the second half.

"We have got to play two halves and be consistent. It was not complacency, it was decision making at times."

Lebanon, who fielded a mix of NRL stars and part-time players, enjoyed a shock 29-18 win over France in their opening game.

England led 22-6 at the break but had only Burgess' converted try and a Gareth Widdop drop goal to show for their efforts in the second half, which saw Jason Wehbe cross for Lebanon.

"I am pleased it is over," added Bennett. "I was pretty pleased with our ball control, we gave ourselves opportunities and we defended pretty well.

"But in the second half we lost our way. Defensively we stood up and I was fairly pleased but we have got to be better than that."

Bennett's frank BBC interview

Wayne Bennett was not giving much away in his post-match interview with BBC's Dave Woods. Here's the transcript in full:

Dave Woods: Wayne, congratulations, first win of the tournament, what was your verdict on the performance?

Wayne Bennett: Mixed.

DW: What was it that made you happy then?

WB: The win.

DW: A mixed performance - which part was good, which part was bad?

WB: Second half, defence was pretty good. Pretty ordinary with the football.

DW: And the bad parts? What needs to improve?

WB: That was the bad part.

DW: The forwards seemed to give you a good platform, were you happy with their performance?

WB: Yeah, they were good.

DW: Second-half kicking game, did you see an improvement there?

WB: I don't think our kicking game was a problem.

DW: The two players you pulled out before - Jonny Lomax and James Roby - is there a long-term issue or are they just missing for this game?

WB: No. James, I just wanted to give George Williams a game, so he had to miss the game for that. But Jon Lomax hurt his calf muscle at training during the week. He'll probably miss next week, but should be back after that.

DW: One or two moments in the second half where you looked to have them beaten on the outside and forward passes were given. Were you a little frustrated with one or two of those referee calls?

WB: No, I can't blame the referee. They were marginal and just went against us, we got a couple that went for us.

DW: They were spirited, but you'd expect them to be spirited wouldn't you?

WB: They played really hard to their credit, they did.

DW: Onwards to France next week and Perth, they will be very different conditions?

WB: Yeah, the weather has been a bit mixed actually. I was in Perth a week ago and it was pretty cold over there too, so who knows.

'Long road to World Cup final'

Josh Hodgson
Josh Hodgson was named man of the match in England's win over Lebanon

England lost their opening game to Australia and the defending champions then beat France on Friday to go top of Group A with one game to play.

Bennett's side face France on Sunday in Perth and victory would see them qualify for the quarter-finals as runners-up, should Australia beat Lebanon.

Hooker Josh Hodgson says England must build on the victory over Lebanon if they want to progress in the competition.

"It's a long road to the World Cup final and there'll be some tough games, but if we can keep improving every week we've got a chance," Hodgson told BBC Two.

"We were good in the first half, we completed really well.

"In that second half, probably too many times when we got down on their line we gifted them too much possession which in turn gave them a couple of piggy-backs down our end.

"We'll obviously look to fix that up, but, first and foremost, we're happy with the win."

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