England bowed out of the Rugby League World Cup after a 27-26 golden-point extra-time defeat to Samoa; “They were overhyped. They’d had Ant Middleton in the camp the night before. For me, it was overstimulated, overhyped and it translated into a sloppy performance,” – Jon Wilkin.
Last Updated: 15/11/22 6:13pm
Jon Wilkin says England were overstimulated for their Rugby League World Cup semi-final against Samoa and it translated into a “sloppy performance”.
Stephen Crichton’s golden-point drop goal saw Samoa stun England and reach a historic first Rugby League World Cup final with a 27-26 victory.
England had managed to send the contest into golden point extra-time through Herbie Farnworth’s late converted try but they failed to replicate the type of performance which say them beat Samoa 60-6 in the opening match of Group A four weeks ago.
When asked what went wrong for England, Wilkin started his assessment in a frank manner.
“Everything (went wrong). They were rubbish,” he said. “Samoa started the tournament so badly and they improved, England started the tournament so well and when it got to the period that mattered, they produced a rank performance.”
Wilkin then said he saw warning signs pre-match, when England’s players linked arms and faced Samoa’s traditional war dance, the Siva Tau.
“England made unforced errors, uncharacteristic errors and they were flustered. I thought they were overhyped before the game,” Wilkin noted.
“You saw facing-off against the Samoans pre-game and (for) some of them, it was like pure aggression coming out of the England players.
“Whenever I faced the haka or any of the cultural dance, I took it for what it is which is a beautiful insight into someone’s else culture. It’s not a threat, it’s not intimidating, and I thought England took it in the wrong way.”
England 26-27 Samoa (AET) score summary
England: Tries – Herbie Farnworth (2), Elliott Whitehead, John Bateman; Goals – Tommy Makinson (5).
Samoa: Tries – Stephen Crichton (2), Tim Lafai (2), Ligi Sao; Goals – Stephen Crichton (3); Drop goal – Stephen Crichton.
Samoa led 10-6 at half-time, despite having been down to 12 men temporarily when Junior Paulo was in the sin-bin.
England then trailed 20-12 in the second half before hauling their way back into the contest and needed the late converted try from Farnworth to send the match to extra time.
“They were overhyped,” Wilkin continued. “They’d had Ant Middleton (former Royal Marines Commando) in the camp the night before. For me, it was overstimulated, overhyped and it translated into a sloppy performance.
“Players who have been playing well all tournament, produced their worst performance in the biggest game. It’s devastating for England and a big learning experience for a lot of young guys.”
Wane laments lack of England composure
Post-match England head coach Shaun Wane was left to rue a lack of composure and sought no excuses after the defeat which ended the team’s hopes of winning the Paul Barriere Trophy for the first time in 50 years.
“Not good enough – they were the better team,” Wane said.
“All credit to our players, what we’ve done in this tournament has been outstanding, but we’ve not done the small details in this game and it has cost us dearly.
“They had better composure; they were the best team. I’ll have a look at what I’ve done this week, but it just wasn’t good enough on the biggest stage you could imagine.
“The players are absolutely devastated, as is every member of staff, but to make any excuses would be unfair to Samoa – they were better than us.”
England captain Sam Tomkins echoed Wane’s sentiments and while he felt the effort was there from the team, they were let down by their execution in key moments of the game.
“There was a lot of effort today and I feel like that was an example of effort alone not being enough,” Tomkins said. “We’ll get into the reasons why another day.
“We’ll just be talking about the errors we made and put ourselves under pressure. We played a very good Samoa side and a team like that, you can’t give opportunities to, and I felt like we did that with and without the ball.
“They’ve got some good players who are going to get you in the end. There are a lot of disappointed men in that room and that disappointment won’t go quickly.”
Sky Sports is the home of all three Super League Grand Finals in 2023. The Men’s Grand Final, the Women’s Grand Final and the Wheelchair Grand Final will all be live on Sky Sports next season. The new Super League season starts on Thursday February 16.