Shaun Wane’s first game as England coach ended in disappointment as the Combined Nations All Stars triumphed 26-24 in Warrington.
Wane was forced to wait 16 months to take charge of his first match and to compound his misery, among the All Stars tryscorers was winger Jermaine McGillvary, who was dropped by the new coach from his final squad for this match.
Catalans Dragons winger Tom Davies and St Helens forward Morgan Knowles, who has switched his allegiance from Wales, both scored tries on their England debuts after Wigan second rower Liam Farrell had given his side the dream start with two early tries.
The Combined Nations coach Tim Sheens estimated he had to cross between 30 and 40 players off his initial squad list but his final line-up, which boasted a tough physical pack and a pair of experienced half-backs, were too good for the best of Super League.
Wane will not be unduly concerned with the World Cup still four months away but England’s only other warm-up match before then will be against Fiji in Rochdale on the eve of their opening group game against Samoa in Newcastle on October 23.
Hit by the late withdrawal of St Helens duo Alex Walmsley and Jonny Lomax, England lost centre Ash Handley and second rower John Bateman to knocks in the first half as injuries continue to blight the season.
That all mattered little to Farrell, who can count himself as a World Cup certainty after his early two-try salvo.
An offload in midfield by prop Mike Cooper created the initial space for Farrell to produce a clean break and he demonstrated exceptional pace to go around the outside of full-back Jake Connor to score his first try.
His second effort was less eye-catching, as he finished off a crossfield dash from scrum-half Luke Gale to force his way over the line, but it put England into a 12-4 lead after Stefan Ratchford kicked his second conversion.
Yet the All Stars gave as good as they got as England were given the tough work-out Wane sought.
Connor had created the opening try with a cut-out pass to left winger Ken Sio and he was also the provider for centre Peter Mata’utia on 23 minutes as the All Stars worked their way into a lead.
Scrum-half Aiden Sezer, who converted Mata’utia’s try, levelled the scores with one penalty and edged his side in front with a second as they turned around with a 14-12 lead.
That became 20-12 five minutes into the second half when McGillvary produced a trademark strong finish, evading both Ratchford and skipper Sam Tomkins, for the All Stars’ third try, which Sezer goaled from the touchline.
England responded straight away as Gale got Knowles charging into a hole and he had the pace to reach the line for his side’s third try but the All Stars struck again on 56 minutes after a 40-20 kick from hooker Kruise Leeming .
Hastings’ high kick bounced awkwardly for England’s defenders and Sio collected the loose ball to notch his second try, which was converted by Sezer to make it 26-18.
The All Stars then lost both Connor and the equally influential Sezer to injury and England hit back to set up a tense finish as centre Reece Lyne put Davies over for a try on 68 minutes, which was again converted by Ratchford.