Though England only lost by one point in yesterday’s heart breaking Rugby League World Cup semi-final defeat against Samoa, there was plenty to dissect when looking to diagnose the manner of the defeat.
Ultimately, from minute one, England were a little bit off from the standards they’ve set all tournament having been outstanding from game one to four.
This was best embodies when Kallum Watkins was caught out by Tim Lafai in the eyes of former Jon Wilkin on BBC as the two Salford Red Devils stars battled.
On the first try scored, Wilkin said: “Real contrast with how he defended in the first game, he was exquisite in the first game but Tim Lafai schooled him here.”
The led to a telling comment from Watkins’ former Leeds Rhinos teammate Jamie Peaccok which summarised England being that little bit off the standards they themselves set: “It’s disappointing from Kallum, he’s a far better defender than that and he’s shown that throughout the World Cup so far and I think that’s a snapshot of players not being where they’ve been over the last few weeks.”
Having identified Lafai’s quality in the opener, Wilkin then said Hull FC star Ligi Sao out smarted Jack Welsby and Kallum Watkins for the second try: “Ligi Sao is a front rower for Hull FC, he shouldn’t be outsmarting two smart players in Jack Welsby and Kallum Watkins.”