PREVIEW: England v France

(Image credit - englandrl.co.uk)

England will be looking to hopefully head into the quarter-finals with confidence and will want to post a lot of points against France on Sunday.

The Three Lions beat Lebanon 29-10 last weekend but they lost 18-4 in their opening game of the tournament to World Cup favourites Australia.

France have had a disappointing campaign, losing to Lebanon and Australia in their first two games and with the latter by some distance as well.

Wayne Bennett has mixed things up with his squad this week and he is trying a couple of different combinations with the likes of Kevin Brown going into the halves, Gareth Widdop moving to full-back while Stefan Ratchford will start on the wing.

And England have been handed a boost by the fact that winger Jermaine McGillvary was found not guilty for a biting claim made by Lebanon captain Robbie Farah. 

But France will want to make it difficult for England to get the win because they will want to salvage some pride in the tournament by putting in a tough display.

KEY BATTLE

The most appetising battle of the game will be between England’s Ben Currie and France ace Benjamin Jullien. Nearly everyone already knows what a talent Currie is but the former Golborne Parkside junior has been unfortunate with injuries in 2017. He will be hoping to get one over his Warrington Wolves teammate on Sunday.

Jullien moved to the Wolves ahead of the 2016 season and has made 36 first team appearances since. The 22-year-old is a bright prospect because he runs a good line when going forward and is also a workhorse when it comes to defending.

ONES TO WATCH

The one to watch for England has got to be George Williams. He has only recently turned 23 years of age but has a lot of Super League experience and if you could think of one player in the England squad that could crack the NRL right now that hasn’t already been over there then Williams would be at the top of the list because he has a bit of everything in his locker.

Lucas Albert is the one people should keep their eyes out for in the France squad. He is only 19-years-old but is set to start in the halves alongside captain Theo Fages which is a very exciting partnership. Albert has good footwork which England will have to watch out for.

THE TEAMS

ENGLAND: 1. Gareth Widdop, 2. Stefan Ratchford, 3. Mark Percival, 4. John Bateman, 5. Jermaine McGillvary, 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Chris Hill, 9. James Roby, 10. James Graham, 11. Ben Currie, 12. Mike McMeeken, 13. Sean O’Loughlin (C). Subs: 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Tom Burgess, 16. Scott Taylor, 17. George Williams. Reserves: 18. Ryan Hall, 19. Elliot Whitehead, 20. Chris Heighington, 21. Kallum Watkins.

FRANCE: 1. Mark Kheirallah, 2. Fouad Yaha, 3. Bastien Ader, 4. Damien Cardace, 5. Ilias Bergal, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Lucas Albert, 8. Antoni Maria, 9. John Boudebza, 10. Julian Bousquet, 11. Benjamin Garcia, 12. Benjamin Jullien, 13. Jason Baitieri. Subs: 14. Romain Navarrete, 15. Thibault Margalet, 16. Maxime Herold, 17. Remy Marginet. Reserves: 18. Olivier Arnaud, 19. Mickael Rouch, 20. Nabil Djalout, 23. Lambert Belmas.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee – Phil Bentham, Touch Judges – Chris Kendall & Michael wise, Video Referee – Bernard Sutton.

THE FAVOURITE

England are the favourites to win this game by a mile and are tipped to reach the final at the tournament. The Three Lions will want to put in a completely dominant display and loverugbyleague.com predicts England by 36 points.

You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports and BBC Two at 10am on Sunday 12 November.

How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.

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