England captain Kevin Sinfield is hoping his side’s unimpressive win over France will provide them with a “kick up the backside” as they prepare to face holders New Zealand for a place in the World Cup final.
Sinfield said there were few positives to draw from England’s 34-6 quarter-final triumph over a struggling French team at Wigan but remains confident they will improve sufficiently to get past the Kiwis in Saturday’s first semi-final at Wembley.
“I’m disappointed, but a win’s a win,” the Leeds half-back said. “I wouldn’t say it’s concerning. We won 34-6.
“I’m just disappointed with our intensity. We were a little bit off from what we’ve been in the group stages. Hopefully it’s a kick up the backside.”
England’s stuttering performance was in sharp contrast to the slick displays by Australia and New Zealand that saw them ease effortlessly into the last four.
France briefly threatened to pull off their first victory over England for 32 years when Vincent Duport scored their third try of the tournament after four minutes.
England’s initial response was breathtaking as they hit their visitors with four tries from wingmen Ryan Hall and Josh Charnley in an 18-minute purple patch.
Full-back Sam Tomkins, appearing at the DW Stadium for the last time ahead of his move to Auckland, supplied the passes for the first two touchdowns while centres Kallum Watkins and Leroy Cudjoe showed touches of class in enabling their wingers to double their tally.
It was an especially sweet moment for Charnley, one of five Wigan men appearing on their home ground who made the most of his recall, while the prolific Hall extended his lead in both the World Cup and England scoring charts with his eighth try of the tournament and his 21st for his country.
But that was as good as it got for Steve McNamara’s men, who laboured for the remaining 55 minutes, adding just two further tries through back-row forwards Brett Ferres and Sean O’Loughlin, with Sinfield taking his goal tally to five from six attempts.