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Italy beat England in league WCup warm-up

England suffered a shock 15-14 loss to minnows Italy - led by Sydney Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello - in a rugby league World Cup warm-up match on Saturday, just a week before the tournament starts.
Italy beat England in league WCup warm-up
by AAP

LONDON, Oct 19 AFP - England suffered a shock 15-14 loss to minnows Italy - led by Sydney Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello - in a rugby league World Cup warm-up match on Saturday, just a week before the tournament starts.

Italy, who've yet to play in a World Cup, led 10-4 before two Sam Tomkins tries gave England a 14-12 halftime lead in Salford.

A drop-goal from winger Josh Mantellato two minutes from time condemned England to a one-point defeat and left their supporters fearing the worst ahead of next weekend's tournament opener against Australia in Cardiff.

"I'm really disappointed," said England coach Steve McNamara. "We've certainly not played anywhere near what we are capable of.

"They were fresh and ready to go. I just think our mentality was really wrong for this game. We were probably guilty of looking towards next week and we took our eye off this game.

"I'm glad it's happened this week in a way, rather than next week. I'm sure we will be a whole lot better for it next week ... we have to respond."

In a match watched by Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens, England and Italy used 44 players between them.

A first-half thunderstorm was a sign of the dismal day to come for England as several defensive errors allowed an Italy side, featuring Minichiello and fellow NRL grand final winner Aidan Guerra, to build an eight-point lead.

England allowed St Helens prop Anthony Laffranchi a soft early try and hooker Dean Parata burrowed over easily for Italy's second.

Mantellato converted both before England recovered through a Carl Ablett try in the 19th minute.

Tomkins then took a James Roy pass to score his first try before grabbing Gareth Widdop's high kick for his second.

Widdop added the extras to put England in front shortly before halftime.

However, England missed further chances and McNamara, looking ahead to more important matches, took Tomkins off 16 minutes from time.

With 11 minutes left, Italy drew level with a penalty goal.

England should have won the match when Widdop broke clear with five minutes remaining but failed to find Rob Burrow in support.

And when Josh Charnley knocked on, Mantellato responded by landing the 30-metre field goal to give Italy a famous victory.

Minichello said he expected to see an improved England against Australia.

"I'm sure they will be much better next week for the run, as will we.

"It was a good game for us. We've had limited amount of preparations and it will bring the team together a bit more.

"It's pretty special. The boys were pretty excited at the end."




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