England comfortably beat France 36-6 on Sunday to progress to the quarter-finals of the Rugby League World Cup and they face Papua New Guinea next weekend.
Tries from Gareth Widdop, Stefan Ratchford, James Graham, Mark Percival and John Bateman put England 26-0 up before Benjamin Garcia pulled one back for France. England were 26-6 to the good at half-time.
Two tries from Jermaine McGillvary in the second half saw England progress to the quarter-finals on the back of a healthy 36-6 victory over France.
Wayne Bennett made five changes to his England team that beat Lebanon last weekend. Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall, Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead and Chris Heighington were replaced by Mark Percival, Kevin Brown, James Roby, Mike McMeeken and Scott Taylor.
Aurelien Cologni made three changes to his France outfit that were defeated by Australia. Bastien Ader, Lucas Albert and Antoni Maria came in for Olivier Arnaud, Remy Marginet and Eloi Pelissier.
England couldn’t have started better if they tried and tried again They piled pressure on the France defence from the start and scored inside two minutes as Luke Gale slipped Gareth Widdop through a gap to score from 20-metres out. Widdop converted to put his side 6-0 up.
Bennett’s side were in great form and scored again a couple of minutes later. They had good numbers on the left-hand side and winger for the day, Stefan Ratchford, scored in the corner. Widdop added the conversion and England were 12-0 ahead.
In the eighth minute, incredibly, England had their third. They threw the ball around near the France line and James Graham then charged over the line. Widdop added the extras to put the Three Lions 18-0 in front.
France came back into the game a little bit after the first 10 minutes but England were simply too strong again as Mark Percival went over in the 23rd minute. The conversion attempt went wide but England were 22-0 to the good.
England scored their fifth try of the game just before the half hour point. The attack was looking dangerous and they spread the ball down to John Bateman who bulldozed his way over the line. Widdop couldn’t convert but England were in a healthy 26-0 advantage.
France pulled one back though in the latter stages of the half through Benjamin Garcia, with the forward scooting from close. Lucas Albert converted but England were still 26-6 to the good at the interval.
HALF TIME: England 26–6 France.
England came out firing again in the second half and crossed the whitewash in the 41st minute. St George Illawarra Dragons star Widdop produced a slick pass to Jermaine McGillvary who finished with ease in the corner. Widdop’s boot made the score 32-6 to England.
The Three Lions continued to be a threat in attack, with France struggling to deal with them. The ball, again, went through quick hands down the line to McGillvary who dived in the corner. Widdop couldn’t convert but England were 36-6 ahead.
Bennett’s England outfit could have easily had another try or two in the last 20 minutes of the game but a couple of errors denied them of the line.
England weren’t as prolific in the second half as they were in the first but the game was already done and dusted by half-time and they probably had an eye on next week’s quarter-final against Papua New Guinea in mind as they ran-out comfortable 36-6 winners against France.
FULL TIME: England 36–6 France.
England – 36
Tries: Widdop, Ratchford, Graham, Percival, Bateman, McGillvary 2
Goals: Widdop 4/7
France – 6
Goals: Albert 1/1
Loverugbyleague.com MOM: Gareth Widdop (England)
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.
Interchange: 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Tom Burgess, 16. Scott Taylor, 17. George Williams.
France: 1. Mark Kheirallah, 2. Fouad Yaha, 3. Bastien Ader, 12. Benjamin Jullien, 5. Ilias Bergal, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Lucas Albert, 16. Maxime Herold, 9. John Boudebza, 8. Antoni Maria, 11. Benjamin Garcia, 10. Julian Bousquet, 13. Jason Baitieri.
Interchange: 14. Romain Navarrete, 15. Thibault Margalet, 19. Mickael Rouch, 20. Nabil Djalout.
Referee – Phil Bentham