England got their Four Nations campaign off to a winning start – but it was far from comprehensive, as they held on to edge out a dogged Samoa side 32-26.
Leading 22-10 midway through the second period, England were clawed back by a resolute Samoan team, but somehow, Steve McNamara’s men found a way to win.
The deadlock was broken midway through the first half, courtesy of a piece of magic from Daryl Clark. The 2014 Man of Steel stepped off the bench to lay a platform for Michael Shenton to go over, with Gareth Widdop adding the extras.
However, Samoa hit back when Isaac Liu powered his way over the line to level the game up.
And six minutes later, England were behind. Brisbane’s Daniel Vidot got the try, and suddenly, England were reeling.
But England hit back four minutes later; Kallum Watkins scored after some good work from Matty Smith – and Widdop converted to put England 12-10 up. Widdop then nailed a penalty on the hooter to nudge the lead out to four.
After the break England improved on their lead when Liam Farrell crossed the whitewash, and Widdop again was on form with the boot. From then on though, it was the Pita Godinet show.
From nowhere, Godinet scored two simple tries from dummy-half; making a mockery of England’s defence – and two goals put Samoa 22-20 up.
England hit back though when Joel Tomkins crossed – after Michael Shenton patted back a Matty Smith kick.
with a four point gap, the next try was crucial; and thankfully for England, it was they who got it. Another Matty Smith kick was the problem for Samoa; they could handle it and Sam Tomkins pounced to extend the lead.
Incredibly though, Samoa weren’t done. England themselves struggled under the high ball, and Antonio Winterstein crashed over to reduce England’s lead to six.
There were some nervy moments late on for the English, but somehow, they held on to record a crucial opening day win.