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Kearney calls on Kiwis to lift

Published: 2:20PM Sunday November 01, 2009 Source: NZPA

New Zealand players warned they will be pummelled by England next Saturday if they repeat their complacent first half performance in a 62-12 rugby league win over France on Sunday.

The fact the Kiwis scored their biggest-ever win in a test in France was scant consolation for Stephen Kearney's side after the coach gave them a halftime blast when they led just 16-6.

And despite a 46-point haul at Stade Ernest Wallon in the second spell, the New Zealand dressing room was decidedly downbeat in comparison to the previous week's 20-20 draw with Australia in London.

"If we turn up like that again next week, we're going to get punished," utility Greg Eastwood told NZPA.

"You can't do that with sides like England and Aussie."

Second rower Frank Pritchard added: "We were just playing shit footy, man.

"Silly penalties here and there, sluggish -- we can't afford to do that.

"We came into the game thinking we were just going to breeze through it.

"If we get our shit right, we're going to be hard to stop but in saying that, we've got a hard game next week against the poms and we've got to show them respect."

Further dampening the mood last night was an eye injury to centre Steve Matai.

He was taken to hospital at fulltime to check for a possible facial fracture, leaving his campaign in jeopardy.

Assuming Australia cruise past France in Paris next Sunday, the England-Kiwis tie later that day in Huddersfield will be a virtual Four Nations semifinal.

Badly-depleted France almost scored the first try last night in front of 12,412 fans, with Teddie Sadaoui's kick just a little too big for pursuing winger Nicolas Piquemal.

Kiwis captain Benji Marshall scored shortly afterwards but the visitors still hadn't found their rhythm by halftime and Les Chanticleers narrowed the margin to just four with a try off a bomb in the 41st minute.

"Halftime came at the right time for us -- we got a bit of a blasting from the coach," five-eighth Marshall said.

Eastwood agreed it was a deserved roasting.

"We didn't turn up with the right attitude but I think a bit of a yelling (at halftime) gave us the mind to go out with the right one."

The Kiwis were finally spurred into action in the 50th minute, running in eight unanswered tries, including a hat-trick by outstanding winger Sam Perrett.

"We were down on attitude and maybe that' a bit my fault," Kearney said.

"I'm not sure if I had given that message during the week.

"I need to look at myself and see if there's something that I can do better."

But Wests Tigers' star playmaker Marshall countered: "If anyone's to blame, it's ourselves on the attitude part. I thought the coach did a good job in preparation and he's being a bit harsh on himself there."

Passionate France coach Bobbie Goulding, who lost two players to swine flu, three to knee injuries and one to suspension, reckoned his side did not deserve to be on the end of such a big scoreline.

"To be truthful, I'd say an Australia-New Zealand final," Goulding said.

"And them games are a 50-50 toss of the coin, I'm not going to call who's going to win it -- it might spark their (Australia's) backs up for next week.

"I don't think (England) will struggle. They'll give it a go. They've come back, scored 16-0 second half today (in the 26-16 loss to Australia).

"England can play but I just think New Zealand and Australia have got a bit too much."