Strong first-half showing puts England in quarter-finals

England secured a quarter-finals clash with Papua New Guinea following a 36-6 victory over France.

Wayne Bennett’s side put in an outstanding first-half display that saw them play with freedom and flamboyance, but questions still remain over their ability to perform at the top level for 80 minutes after a sloppy second-half showing.

But Bennett and his coaching staff will have taken plenty of positives from the match, with several of the squad’s untested players in World Cup competition impressing.

In particular, Kevin Brown was impressive while James Roby, back in the side after missing against Lebanon, was one of England’s brightest players.

Gareth Widdop, operating at fullback, put England ahead before Stefan Ratchford and James Graham scored quick-fire tries to put England 16-0 ahead inside 10 minutes.

Mark Percival and John Bateman both scored to extend the lead before Benjamin Garcia crashed over by the posts to give France a lifeline.

However, England never looked like crumbling, albeit an error-ridden second-half with the ball prevented them putting France to the sword, with Jermain McGillvary’s double the only scores in the second-half.

A full report will be in Monday’s League Express.

England: Widdop, Ratchford, Percival, Bateman, McGillvary, Brown, Gale, Hill, Roby, Graham, Currie, McMeeken, O’Loughlin. Subs: Walmsley, T Burgess, Taylor, Williams.

Tries: Widdop, Ratchford, Graham, Percival, Bateman, McGillvary (2)
Goals: Widdop (4)

France: Kheirallah, Yaha, Ader, Jullien, Bergal, Fages, Albert, Maria, Boudebza, Herold, Garcia, Bousquet, Baitieri. Subs: Navarette, Margalet, Touch, Djalout.

Tries: Garcia
Goals: Kheirallah (1)