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Rugby League Test Match: England engage New Zealand in thriller

Matt Haynes | October 31, 2015

England v New Zealand

  • International Rugby League
  • Sunday, October 31st
  • Kick-off: 17:00 BST
  • KC Stadium, Hull
  • Live on BBC2

Thrilling contest in store on Humberside

In the first of three eagerly anticipated rugby league international test matches between England and New Zealand, it is the hosts, who, perhaps surprisingly are the heavy odds-on 8/13 favourites with Coral to emerge with a win.

England’s emphatic 88-4 victory over France recently in a warm-up friendly, sees coach Steve McNamara name an unchanged 19-man squad for the match.

They will be hoping that the venue is an omen. England’s last win over the Kiwis came in the 2011 Four Nations, at the KC Stadium no less, as they secured a 28-6 victory which booked them a place in the final against Australia.

Only six players; James Graham, Ryan Hall, Sean O’Loughlin, James Roby, Ben Westwood and Gareth Widdop of this squad are remaining survivors from that victory and, it is perhaps Leeds Rhinos winner Hall who boasts the biggest scoring threat with odds of 8/1 on him available to grab the first try.

Rugby League - International Test Match - England v France - Leigh Sports Village

On the opposite wing, the lethal Joe Burgess, who has enjoyed an emphatic try-scoring season with Wigan and who heads to the NRL next season is also 8/1 to crash over first. It is his former teammate, Liam Farrell, however, who perhaps has the best value, available at 5/2 in the anytime market, after a great scoring run this term.

McNamara: Squad “looking forward” to occasion

In the run-up to the match, coach McNamara reflected more on the victory over France, and was positive ahead of the Kiwis clash.

“We have named the same 19 as last week,” said England coach McNamara.

Rugby League - Four Nations Tournament Launch - Brisbane

“The squad is looking forward to the first match of the international series against New Zealand.

“We’ve set ourselves up to perform well in the four internationals that we’ve got and the French result, last week, was a good reflection of the way the team prepared and practised in the two weeks prior to it,” McNamara continued.

“We did well, there’s areas for improvement, of course, and we’ll come under much more pressure and intensity this week. It’s about being able to perform to the same level even though the pressure is on. We’re looking forward to that challenge.

Kiwis still have threats despite absentees

Although New Zealand have left Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran, Simon Mannering, and Jason Taumalolo at home, England shouldn’t underestimate them.

In Jason Nightingale, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Kenny-Dowall, they have very credible try-scorers with the trio 11/1, 11/1 and 10/1 respectively to score first, while Isaac Luke at half back, can make things happen.

The imposing Kevin Proctor also takes some stopping. He is 7/2 to cross anytime, while Jesse Bromwich isn’t exactly inexperienced and he has odds of 9/2 in the same market. In the last two meetings between the two nations, the Kiwis have won by two points each time, so odds of 11/2 on a 1-5 point winning margin could be good value.

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Coral’s top tip: Back New Zealand to win by 1-5 points @ 11/2 with Coral after claiming victory by a margin of two in their last two matches against England.