Latest victory, over Fiji, the springboard to better performances according to Steve McNamara.
Coach Steve McNamara insists England head into the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals a better team for their group outings after defeating Fiji 34-12.
England claimed their second successive win of the tournament with Ryan Hall at the double as five tries were scored in a devastating 16-minute spell at the start of the second half.
Level at 6-6 at half-time as Ben Westwood and Eloni Vunakece traded tries, England ran riot after the interval with Hall grabbing two and Sam Burgess, Brett Ferres and Rob Burrow scoring one each.
Semi Radradra grabbed a consolation late in the second half for Fiji who also made the quarter-finals after Australia beat winless Ireland.
England’s place in the last eight is assured and coach McNamara is adamant they are growing into the tournament after responding to an opening defeat to Australia with successive wins.
“It was a proper Test match and we always knew it would be against Fiji. Anyone who thinks they will come and walk over this Fijian team will have to think again,” said McNamara.
“We defended great in the first half and we had to because Fiji came at us. It was exactly the test we needed at this stage of the tournament.
“We have had no real easy games so far and we have had to work hard in each one. I think that will bode well for us in the quarter-finals now.
“We were a little more direct in this game, which was pleasing to see. It went a little bit sideways in the first half and we needed to fix that.
“And we did that tremendously well at the start of the second half and that set us up to win the game and now we move on.
“I wasn’t worried at half-time when the score was 6-6. Rob Burrow did a great job coming on at the right time of the game.
“Fiji played better than I’ve ever seen. Whoever they face in the quarter-finals is going to have a tough job.”
In contrast to England, Fiji are now winless in two having beaten Ireland in their tournament opener but now lost to both McNamara’s troops and Tim Sheens’ Australia.
Fiji coach Rick Stone admitted England were uncontrollable as they dominated after the break with Hall scoring his fifth and sixth tries of the tournament so far.
“I am pretty proud of the guys and the way we played, especially in the first half,” said Stone. “Obviously it was a really good effort.
“But England were great in the first 20 minutes of the second half and we couldn’t contain them. We kept fighting on and gave it all we had.
“We had a good first half and we fought back well at the back end of the second half, which is pleasing going forward.
“We’re enjoying the experience. For some of the boys who have never left home before it has certainly been an amazing experience.”