Five things: Farewell Steve, soft Sims and Sonny Bill

Neil Barraclough

One – Farewell, Steve: Hull did you proud

No words here can pay the kind of tribute Steve Prescott’s efforts deserve.

But the actions of 25,000 fans at the KC Stadium, in front of a national TV audience, spoke volumes about the man who appeared to inspire everyone he met.

England boss Steve McNamara said: “As usual the people of Hull broke the rules. They asked for a minute’s silence and they decided they’d turn it into a minute’s applause, but credit to them for that. It was apt.

“The people of Hull will never let you down. They’re very loyal and passionate, and if you do the right thing by them they’ll take you to their heart.”


Two – England’s 20-minute machine needs to push itself further

Back to the actual rugby, and for three successive weeks England have been outstanding in a 20-minute spell.

They had the Kangaroos rocking with that 10-0 lead in Cardiff; they racked up six tries in 21 minutes against Ireland; and they bettered that with six tries in 18 minutes on Saturday.

Trouble is, a rugby league match lasts for 80 minutes.

McNamara’s men will surely dispatch Samoa or France with ease next week, but New Zealand? Australia? They’ll need to play much better for much longer.

There are a few encouraging signs though, with Rangi Chase and Kevin Sinfield’s partnership showing some promise in the second half at Hull.

With a fully fit squad and Rob Burrow impressing against Fiji, McNamara certainly has a few difficult calls to make this week. Over to you, Steve.


Three – Ben Westwood and Tariq Sims? Not exactly buddies

Message to Tariq Sims: don’t expect any Christmas cards from Warrington next month.

Ben Westwood was put on report after clobbering into Sims in the 75th minute. Sims initially appeared out for the count, but quickly got up for an exchange of handbags in front of referee Ben Cummins.

Westwood’s thoughts? “I thought we were playing football for a minute the way he went down, but he soon got back up after I called him soft.

“I said ‘what are you doing, get up’ and he jumped up and wanted to have a fight with me. He can’t have been that bad.”


Four – All smiles for Sonny Bill

Relief at Headingley for the World Cup’s biggest star, with the grin on Sonny Bill Williams’ face saying everything after his second try against Papua New Guinea.

After nearly repeating the cock-up he made against Samoa, when he slipped out of play before grounding the ball, Sonny Bill got to his feet with a smile as wide as his broad shoulders.

New Zealand have been the most impressive team of the group stages. Those 7/2 odds are looking increasingly generous.


Five – World Cup wonderland

Compelling stuff at Halifax, where Tonga and Italy battered each other in another engrossing clash.

And what a reward for Steve McCormack’s Scotland boys, who are now gearing up for a quarter-final against the Kiwis after Tonga’s 16-0 win.

Three more weeks of this World Cup still to go – how good is that?

Right now, we’re hoping December never comes…


Any thoughts on the weekend’s action? Leave them in the comments box below.

Follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough