Sheffield Eagles chief backs England to cause surprise in World Cup final

Sheffield Eagles and Ireland coach Mark Aston says England are capable of '˜springing a surprise' ahead of Saturday's World Cup final.

Thursday, 30th November 2017, 1:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:01 pm
England have announced that hooker Josh Hodgson will miss Saturday's World Cup final because of an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

England booked their place in the showpiece event after hanging on for a narrow win over Tonga, whilst the Kangeroos sailed through their semi-final against Fiji.

The Aussies also boast a victory over England in the group stages, but Aston isn't ruling out the underdogs stating that Wayne Bennett’s side can overturn the form guide.

“England haven’t hit their straps but they are still in there and with a great chance,” Aston informed The Star.

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“They haven’t really put an 80 minute performance together yet, but they have it in themselves, and if they do then they are capable of springing a surprise. A lot of people will be talking about Australia, but in a one off game if England can find a performance then they have every chance. They will have to play a lot better but they are capable of beating anybody.”

Aston’s Ireland exited the competition at the group stage despite winning two out of their three games.

The current format has come under scrutiny with Aston venting his frustration that teams have advanced despite not matching Ireland’s win record.

The Wolfhounds were on course for a quarter-final spot against England, before a late defeat to Papua New Guinea, and Aston admitted his frustration at not being able to get the opportunity to put pressure on what has been an inconsistent England side.

“We really fancied a dig against England,” Aston added.

“We would have fancied ourselves in that one. I think it would have been a very close match. There are a number of players in our group, especially those in Super League, who liked our chances. It was disappointing because we worked very hard. It was though a very enjoyable experience for everyone concerned.

“We set ourselves a target to try and get to the quarter-finals, we knew we would have to win the three games, and we just came up a little bit short. There are teams that went through that only drew a game, and another side went through winning just one of their games. It needs a bit of a shake up if I am honest. Teams who win two out of three games have to go through. It needs to be looked at.”