England beat New Zealand on Sunday for the first time in four years but head coach Steve McNamara is adamant his side can play a whole lot better.
In the first of a three-match Test series, England found themselves in a 10-0 hole early on as Tohu Harris and Sam Moa both went over for the Kiwis.
But the hosts came roaring back at the KC Stadium, a Brett Ferres double and tries from Josh Hodgson and Sean O’Loughlin sealing a 26-12 victory over the world’s No.1 side.
Next up is the Olympic Stadium on Saturday for the second Test and McNamara is confident his side can find another gear.
“The first half was scratchy, we put ourselves under a lot of pressure and I think we looked out of sorts to be honest,” he said.
“Second half was completely different, we finished the game really strongly.
“The four players on the bench really turned that game for us.
“They really got us going forward and that’s what benches are there for – to add to your team, not just try and survive during that period when they’re on.
“Tom Burgess was incredible. I wouldn’t say he was unstoppable but they found it very difficult to deal with him in attack, and defensively he was really strong as well.
“But we know we need to improve our start moving into the next couple of games.”
England, who had lost their last two games to the Kiwis by the narrowest of margins, were not to be denied this time as skipper O’Loughlin went over for the decisive final score.
“There are patches that both sides will want to improve on next week, I think we will see two improved sides next week,” said the captain.
“But we are really happy with what we did last week and getting the win as well.
“We have spoken about how close we have been for the last two years but this series is about getting over the line now and trying to get a trophy in our hands.”
Without injured stars Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran and captain Simon Mannering, the Kiwis made a bright start but faded at the KC Stadium.
And their head coach Stephen Kearney knows his side will need to find another gear if they are to turn the series around in London.
“England’s forward pack performed really well out there,” Kearney said.
“I’ve said consistently over the last couple of weeks since we’ve been here that the English side have played with no luck over the last couple of years. Tonight it worked for them.
“Certainly a strength of their team are the likes of James Graham, Burgess, Chris Hill and Sean O’Loughlin, who’s a wonderful player.
“They’re a good footy team and we’ve got a pretty good footy team in there too. The challenge is on for us next week.”