ENGLAND KNIGHTS 52 SAMOA 16
By Liam Williams
England Knights avoided an early scare to beat Samoa 52-16 largely thanks to a man-of-the-match performance from Zak Hardaker and a hat-trick by Jack Hughes.
Despite conceding the opening try, England Knights were in full control for large parts of the match, and led 22-10 at the break with tries from Sam Powell, Scott Taylor, Ben Cockayne and Michael Lawrence.
The Knights, having worn down the Samoan pack, enjoyed a comfortable second half as they scored another five tries before conceding a consolation try from Junior Sau.
Samoa came closest to opening the scoring when full-back Antony Milford looked to be heading over the line but was held up short.
The visitors did break the deadlock shortly after however, when Newcastle Knights wing Joey Leilua went over in the corner.
England, though, responded well, scoring three tries in quick succession.
Powell was the first to go over after Taylor eased past his opposite number David Fa’alogo before allowing the Wigan scrum-half to cut inside to score England’s first try of the game.
The restart went out on the full and was appropriately punished. One minute later Taylor again breached the Samoan defence to power over the line himself, with Hardaker adding the extras.
The Leeds Rhinos back, omitted from England’s warm-up game with Italy, then created a try of his own. Exploiting the injury to Samoa captain Harrison Hansen, Hardaker embarked on a mazy run before finding Ben Cockayne who was left with a simple finish.
Michael Lawrence made an immediate impact after coming on from the bench, when he collected his speculative grubber kick to score the last try of the half and give England a 22-10 lead.
The last try of the half was not to be the last event of the half, though, as Singleton landed two punches on Masoe before the remaining 12 players from both sides weighed in resulting in Singleton and Lefai both being sin-binned.
The Knights entered cruise control shortly after the break, as Brett Ferres found Jack Hughes who went over to extend their lead, before Hughes returned the favour, offloading to Ferres, with Hardaker again converting, this time in off the post.
Hardaker was unlucky not to add to his tally as he made a break for the line, before dropping the ball after being tackled.
Ferres and Hughes linked up for a third time as the Wigan second-row collected Ferres’s pass to touch down in the corner, with Hardaker expertly converting from the touchline.
Samoa offered little resistance as Powell latched onto his own grubber kick to score his second try of the game.
Hughes then completed his hat-trick to see the Knights surpass the 50-point mark after spinning away from the Samoan defence to touch down under the posts.
Sau gave the Samoans reason to cheer with a consolation try in the corner, before Pita Godinet converted with the last kick of the game.
1 Tommy Makinson (St Helens, Wigan St Judes)
2 Iain Thornley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
3 Josh Jones (St Helens, Blackbrook)
4 Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
5 Ben Cockayne (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Normanton Knights)
6 Daniel Sarginson (London Broncos, Hemel Stags)
7 Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
8 Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
9 Josh Hodgson (Hull KR, East Hull)
10 Scott Taylor (Wigan Warriors, Skirlaugh)
11 Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)
12 Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons, West Bowling)
13 Dominic Crosby (Wigan Warriors, Wigan & Leigh College)
14 Chris Green (Hull FC, Skirlaugh)
15 Jack Hughes (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Judes)
16 Michael Lawrence (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)
17 Kieran Dixon (London Broncos, Hemel Stags)
18 Brad Singleton (Leeds Rhinos, Barrow Island)
19 Josh Bowden (Hull FC, Hull Wyke)
20 Logan Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
1 Anthony Milford (Canberra Raiders)
2 Antonio Winterstein (North Queensland Cowboys)
3 Tim Lafai (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
4 Joey Leilua (Newcastle Knights)
5 Daniel Vidot (St George-Illawarra Dragons)
6 Ben Roberts (Parramatta Eels)
7 Penani Manumalealii (Cronulla Sharks)
8 Mark Taufua (Cronulla Sharks)
9 Masada Iosefa (Wests Tigers)
10 David Fa’alogo (Newcastle Knights)
12 Iosia Soliola (St Helens)
11 Harrison Hansen (Wigan Warriors)
13 Sauaso Sue (Wests Tigers)
17 Suaia Matagi (New Zealand Warriors
19 Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra)
18 Junior Moors (Melbourne Storm)
16 Mose Masoe (Penrith Panthers)
20 Frank Winterstein (Widnes Vikings)
14 Junior Sau (Melbourne Storm)
15 Pita Godinet (Auckland Vulcans)
23 Teofilo Lepou (Marist)
24 Faleniu Iosi (Samoa RL)
22 Ionatana Tino (Samoa RL)
21 Eddie Purcell (Mount Albert)
25 Arden McCarthy (Point Chevalier Pirates)
Referee: Ben Thaler (England)