12 Nov 2022
Wane: England paid the price for a lack of composure
England coach says standards slipped in crucial semi-final with Samoa
By James Toney at the Emirates Stadium
Shaun Wane is not very often lost for words but this was one of those occasions.
England's coach sat shell-shocked at in the bowels of the Emirates Stadium, his team beaten 27-26 by Stephen Crichton's golden point drop goal that sent Samoa into their first Rugby League World Cup final.
England's players slumped to the pitch as Crichton's field goal threaded the sticks, to make matters worse Samoa players blasted out 'Sweet Caroline' - the adopted song of English sporting success - from the adjacent dressing room.
Good times may never have felt this good for them but for England, it's hard to imagine them feeling worse, the chance of a home final, against oldest rivals Australia, snatched from under their noses.
It was not meant to be like this, England had won the same fixture in Newcastle 60-6 just four weeks ago and were being roared on by a partisan 40,489 crowd.
But they were ultimately outgunned at the Gunners, paying the price for a game littered with errors, a game in which they only seemed to find their intensity and energy deep into the second half.
They'd done well to force extra-time, Herbie Farnworth crashing over in the dying minutes to level things up, but ultimately they paid the price for getting caught in the bright lights of the big occasion.
"I'm sad, it's not good enough and they were the better team," said Wane.
"All credit to our players, they've been outstanding in this tournament, but the small details have cost us. They had better composure than us and that's not good enough on the biggest stage you can imagine.
“We needed more consistency, we need to look our ourselves and we've got an honest group of players and they'll do that. We'll be in this position again and we will be better next time.
"I knew this would be a different challenge to that first game, they've got too many good players. I can't doubt my players effort and they are absolutely devastated. To make any excuses would be unfair to Samoa.
“We didn't deliver to the same standards as we've done in this competition and the players are hurting badly right now."
?? This is it - the moment Stephen Crichton sent Samoa to the men's Rugby League World Cup 2021 final!#RLWC2021 #ENGSAM pic.twitter.com/D7p20W3YhM
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) November 12, 2022
This was a no quarters asked or given sort of clash, another semi-final nail-biter, although perhaps lacking the quality of the Kangaroos win over the Kiwis on Friday night, in a match already being dubbed one of the greatest internationals of all-time.
However, in truth, Samoa always seemed to have the edge, playing with a swagger and belief that England had displayed in other games, only for it to evaporate when they needed it most.
"We'll dissect this when we've got time, we'll get into the reasons why another day," said captain Sam Tomkins.
"You can't give a team like that those opportunities, they'll get you in the end. There are a lot of disappointed men in that dressing room."
Samoa arrived at the World Cup as many people's favourites to upset the established world order in the sport but straight off the plane, with just two training sessions and no warm-up match, they were caught cold by England in the tournament opener.
However, a side packed with NRL Grand Finalists were only going to improve, though Wane believes they'll need to step up again as they prepare to take on Australia at Old Trafford next Saturday.
"They showed they've got a lot of talent but they'll have to play better to beat the Kangaroos," he added.
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets