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England sign off with win
Clubb bags four to sink plucky Kumuls in Auckland
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England signed off from their disappointing Four Nations campaign with a 36-10 victory over Papua New Guinea at Eden Park.
A first half hat-trick from Harlequins centre Tony Clubb and a double from Huddersfield's Luke Robinson put Steve McNamara's men in charge, however a lethargic second period display, combined with the loss of half-back pairing Kevin Brown and Robinson to injury, allowed the Kumuls to fight back.
Halifax prop Makali Aizue and Sheffield Eagles centre Menzie Yere gave the minnows two moments of cheer, although further scores from Ben Harrison and a fourth from Clubb sealed a hard-fought win.
A win it may have been, but earlier defeats to host nation New Zealand and Australia had already seen England's hopes of qualifying for the final go up in flames.
The Kumuls, who had conceded 118 points in their matches against Australia and New Zealand, arrived only 40 minutes before kick-off but quickly made their intentions clear as they ripped into England with some ferocious hits.
England's intentions were equally apparent from the start as they attempted to catch the Kumuls out on the flanks, but mis-directed passes from Ben Westwood and Sean O'Loughlin made for a frustrating start and it took them 15 minutes to open their account.
They ran a penalty from in front of the posts after Sam Burgess had been the victim of a high tackle from Nickson Kolo and scrum-half Robinson took a pass from James Roby to jink his way through for the game's first try.
England doubled their tally from the kick-off, with skipper James Graham getting Tom Briscoe into space and Clubb finishing off the 90-metre move for his first touchdown.
Westwood kicked a first conversion and then Clubb, making his full debut, took Robinson's pass to use his powerful frame to force his way over for his second try.
The lively Robinson increased England's lead with a solo try four minutes before half-time, with substitute Gareth Widdop kicking the conversion, and there was just enough time for Clubb to complete his hat-trick after taking O'Loughlin's accurate pass.
It looked as if the floodgates may open when Harrison notched England's fourth try early in the second half, however the Kumuls battled back gamely to the delight of the home fans.
First, Halifax prop Aizue crashed over under the posts before Sheffield star Yere finished off a flowing move on the left to gave Papua New Guinea hope.
However, England had the final say, Clubb capping a day to remember with his fourth score following a mix-up in the Kumuls' defence.
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|Gillette Four Nations|
|Saturday 25th October|
|00:00||Australia vs New Zealand|
|00:00||England vs Samoa|
|Saturday 1st November|
|00:00||New Zealand vs Samoa|
|Sunday 2nd November|
|00:00||Australia vs England|
|Saturday 8th November|
|00:00||New Zealand vs England|
|Sunday 9th November|
|00:00||Australia vs Samoa|
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