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England keep spirits up but defeat makes route to final a steep climb

• Four Nations defeat by New Zealand has hosts on the back foot
• Only two wins will do to reach final with Australia looming large

The defiant mood in the England changing room immediately after their 17-16 defeat by New Zealand in Huddersfield on Saturday underlined that they still have a chance of success in the Four Nations tournament even if the road ahead is slightly bumpier than many might have anticipated at this stage.

Losing a game billed as a semi-final of sorts – despite there still being two rounds of group fixtures to play – was certainly a setback for Wayne Bennett’s side. The fact that history will have to be made if England are to reach the final at Anfield on 20 November underlines how much they are on the back foot, even if the talk from the England players was of how nothing has yet been decided.

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