Sunday certainly did not work out the way it was supposed to.

A nice early start was looking well worthwhile as England turned round 12-4 to the good against Australia in the Four Nations clash at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

Sadly an hour or so later England rugby league fans were once more left looking at yet another defeat at the hands of the Kangaroos and wondering how the men in red and white hoops had managed to achieve a defeat when victory had looked the most likely outcome.

The afternoon was not much better as Huddersfield racer Tom Sykes went out to defend his World Superbikes title and by the end of race two at the Losail International circuit in Qatar had surrendered his title to that most English of Frenchmen Sylvain Guintoli.

In both instances it seemed to be a question of belief that left England without victories.

While a lot of comment has been made about the failure to award Ryan Hall a last minute try in the Four Nations shwodown, to my mind England should not even have been left clutching at such straws.

Essentially one more score in the opening stages of the second half really should have finished the job for coach Steve McNamara’s men and Australia would have been out of the tournament’s final, but instead England slipped back into the bad habit of losing possession and making errors which allowed the home side a chance to get back into the game.

It is almost as though England don’t believe that we can beat the Australians, or that it would be bad form to do so, or that it would be too much of a break with tradition to turn over the Green and Golds over.

You would have thought that with a significant number of the England players now plying their trade Down Under that the mystical Australian grip might have melted away as myth, but while this particular mental barrier remains firmly in place I’m afraid our national side will not be winning anything in the way of trophies.

And it could be argued that Fenay Bridge rider Sykes might also have to cross a bridge or two as he goes seeking a second world title in 2015.

Tom Sykes enters the pit lane after being beaten in race two at the Losail International track in Doha
 

The 29-year-old went into the final meeting in Doha with a 12 point buffer as he sought to become the first rider since Carl Fogarty in 1999 to retain the crown, but two race wins by Guintoli proved more than enough to steal the title away.

However, in motorsport the equipment is a key component and there could be no doubting that over the season Aprilia have matched and then overtaken Sykes’ Kawasaki Racing Team in getting more pace out of their machines.

While the season came down to the final race – which let’s face it is how a great competition should be – the momentum was firmly on the side of the Italian manufacturers.

Sykes’ last win in the championship was in race two in round nine at Laguna Seca in California – race one had been won by Aprilia’s other team member Marco Melandri.

In the following six races across the meetings at Jerez, Magny-Cours and then Losail, the wins were shared by Melandri and Guintoli, with Aprilia definitely in the ascendancy.

Quite simply in Qatar, Sykes and his green machine were seriously out-gunned as Guintoli used the long straights on the Doha track to take a lead and increase it with quite some ease.

England may get their chance to redress the balance if they contrive to meet the Aussies in the Four Nations final in ten days or so, but sadly for Sykes it will be a case of using the winter break to quite literally get back on track to challenge next time round.