Five pointers from Pacific Test

Monday May 08, 2017 Written by Published in League
England put on a strong performance against Samoa in the Pacifi c Test on Friday in Sydney. 17050704 England put on a strong performance against Samoa in the Pacifi c Test on Friday in Sydney. 17050704

England send an early World Cup warning with a strong performance, a veteran turns back the clock, while a trio of fullbacks light up Campbelltown Stadium.

 

England clinical after short prep

With just three training sessions and six days to prepare, and 12 players flying in from the UK, the effort from England against Samoa was first-class.

The men in white were easily the more composed side and overcome a parochial Samoan-dominant crowd at Campbelltown.

England coach Wayne Bennett believed his side got plenty out of the decision to compete in the Pacific Test Invitational.

"We weren't going to get better watching the other nations play," Bennett said post-game.

"It was an add-on from where we finished in the Four Nations; we didn't get the players in until Monday night so it's a big effort.

"We didn't have a whole lot of time to do anything but they picked up where they left off."

Samoa lack finish and polish

Despite Samoa enjoying more possession and completing the same amount of sets as their English rivals, Matt Parish's side struggled to build pressure in pivotal stages of the game and looked disjointed throughout.

With a strong line-up on paper, Samoa got to within 10 points in the final 15 minutes of the clash but England remained focused on the job to force errors from key players Joey Leilua and Anthony Milford at the back end.

Samoa had their chances but more often than not the final pass or the final kick went astray. With a similar squad the Samoans should be a force at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup but will need to work on finishing their sets positively and building pressure.

PNG, Cooks fullbacks star

Both wearing the No.1 jerseys for their respective countries, Stargroth Amean and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad lit up Campbelltown Stadium in the opening game of the Pacific Test Invitational between Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands on Friday afternoon.

Papua New Guinea custodian Amean crossed for a double while Nicoll-Klokstad ran for over 155 metres in a 60-minute effort before leaving the field for a head injury assessment late in the clash.

After making his international debut for PNG in the corresponding Pacific Test fixture in 2016, Amean looked like a man on the mission with two line-breaks and amassing 157 metres.

Nicoll-Klokstad then saved a certain try in one of the defensive efforts of the year to further show why he is on the cusp of a regular spot with the Warriors in the NRL Telstra Premiership.

Captain Kev steals Fiji show

It was a scrappy performance from the Fijian side against Tonga with 53 missed tackles and a 67 per cent completion rate.

However, to coincide with Nicoll-Klokstad's effort to deny PNG centre Adex Wera a certain four-pointer in the earlier game, Fiji fullback and newly appointed skipper Kevin Naiqama produced one of the efforts of the day with a show of stunning skill to keep the ball alive for Ben Nakubuwai to go over for his first four-pointer in international colours on the stroke of half-time.

Old bull turns back the clock

Tonga winger Manu Vatuvei might be struggling for a game under Warriors coach Stephen Kearney, but “The Beast” was in full throttle mode to lead the way against Fiji. The former Kiwis winger produced a monster shot on Fiji prop Kane Evans late in the game to gift Tonga the chance to steal victory and ran for over 189 metres with a four-pointer to boot.

Vatuvei's combination with Wests Tigers young gun Moses Suli on the left-edge kept Fijian pair Taane Milne and Marcelo Montoya at bay.

Sidenote key point: Pacific Test football is here to stay in Western Sydney. The 18,271 fans that flocked to the venue was the biggest rugby league crowd at Campbelltown Stadium since Round 16, 2011.

            - NRL.com

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