England coach takes aim at Tonga ahead of semi


SYDNEY: England coach Wayne Bennett has set the stage for a fiery World Cup semi-final against Tonga.
England booked their ticket to the semi-finals with a scrappy 36-6 victory over PNG in yesterday’s quarterfinal in Melbourne, before Bennett took aim at his upcoming opponents.
Bennett is not happy with the World Cup eligibility rules that allowed Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo to opt to play for Tonga, instead of Australia and New Zealand respectively.
Fifita and Taumalolo have been instrumental for the Tongans during their fairytale run to the semis, but Bennett says it’s wrong that they were allowed to defect.
Bennett thought the saga had been a massive distraction before the tournament, and on Sunday he shot down any speculation that Tonga’s form had been a good thing for the tournament.
“The players just have to make a choice,” Bennett said, not happy about rules allowing players to switch between countries in between World Cup campaigns.
“The game needs to be in charge of the game. It can’t be run by the players.”
Bennett was also rather filthy with his side’s performance against PNG, labelling it a 5 out of 10.
While winger Jermaine McGillvary set up the victory with two first-half tries, Bennett was fuming with his side’s woeful completion rate.
The northern hemisphere heavyweights crossed for seven tries but only managed to complete 25 of 45 sets — at just 56 per cent — in the face of some feisty defence from the Kumuls.
But it was enough to book a final-four berth against Tonga at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium next Saturday night.
Scored six minutes apart, McGillvary’s tries were strikingly similar with the athletic flanker reaping the rewards of a sweeping England backline move, although credit for the second must go centre Kallum Watkins who delivered a special backhand flick pass.
The Kumuls blew their only real first-half chance when centre Kato Ottio dropped a soaring bomb in the in-goal with his team trailing 14-0 at the break.
England extended that to 20-0 in the 56th minute with Ben Currie running on to a neat grubber from fullback Gareth Widdop, who was on target with the conversion.
But the crowd of 10,563 were on their feet soon after when PNG winger Garry Lo etched his team’s first points with a try in the corner.
England continued to dominate despite their mounting error rate to win. – 7Sport