Kiwis left to rue inability to put Scots to sword
RUGBY LEAGUE: New Zealand second-rower Tohu Harris admits the Kiwis lack a ruthless edge, which has put them in an unwanted predicament over the next 24 hours.
They will be forced to sit and watch the Kangaroos-England clash on Sunday night (midnight AEST), knowing that the wrong result will put them on the plane home the following day.
If the Lions win, or the Olympic stadium fixture is a draw, the defending Four Nations champions will limp out of the tournament.
In the wash-up to the Kiwis' draw with Scotland, coach David Kidwell focused on untimely mistakes, inaccuracy and the penalty count, while captain Jesse Bromwich bemoaned an overall lack of energy.
But Harris nailed the Kiwis' major problem - a complete inability to make defensive or offensive pressure count. It killed them in Perth in the warm-up loss to Australia, hurt them in Coventry in another defeat to the Kangaroos and was the critical factor in Workington against the Scots.
"Right from the start we lacked the ruthlessness that I think Australia has at the moment,” Harris said. "That is the biggest difference between us and them at the moment.”
The Kiwis had good moments in Workington but would invariably release all pressure with a poor option, bad mistake, cheap penalty or lazy chase. It's all about the right attitude, which the Kiwis lacked. Scotland was tenacious, but some sustained pressure in the first half could have punctured its belief, and ensured a much better result.
"It's all about putting teams under pressure and then putting the foot on the throat,” Harris said. "We were able to build pressure at times but we let ourselves down and let that pressure off at times.”
It was a crazy game. Not only did Scotland dominate the first half - playing into a strong wind - but the minnows also looked the more likely winners with 10 minutes to play.
The Kiwis have made the 150km trip from Carlisle to Manchester, where they will be based until they know their fate.
They'll hope that Australia continues its recent dominance over England, a winning run that dates back to 2006.
"We have left the outcome in someone else's hands, which is what we wanted to avoid,” Harris said. "We have to hope and pray for the Kangaroos - cheer for the Aussies, which hurts inside. (But) we want to be there playing in that final.”
"We spoke about remaining positive,” added teammate Shaun Johnson. "We are still in with a chance of being there next weekend and if we are then we have to treat it as another week where we want to improve as a group.