Tom Johnstone hat-trick helps England warm up for New Zealand in style by thrashing France

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Tom Johnstone bagged a hat-trick on his international debut to help England demolish France in ahead of their Test series against New Zealand.

Wayne Bennett’s side scored seven first half tries as they eased past France 44-6 at the Leigh Sports Village on Wednesday night.

It was fine preparation for their three-match Test series against the Kiwis, which kicks off next Saturday, October 22, at KCOM Stadium in Hull.

Bennett handed out eight debuts to Johnstone, Jamie Shaul, Reece Lyne, Oliver Holmes, Adam Milner, Luke Thompson, Robbie Mulhern and Liam Sutcliffe.

Seven players from Catalans Dragons featured for France. Tony Gigot, Lambert Belmas, Alrix Da Costa, Benjamin Jullien, Mickael Goudemand, Jason Baitieri and Thibaud Margalet all played.

England opened the scoring in the first set as Tom Burgess crashed over the line from close range. Jake Connor converted to give his side a 6-0 lead.

Debutant Johnstone then scored a hat-trick by the 25th minute. Two of the tries came from kicks and the other on the back of some poor defending from the visitors.

England scored three tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Richie Myler danced through the France defence to score in his first game for England in six years.

Thompson also steamed over on his debut following a superb offload from Milner, while Canberra Raiders back-rower Elliott Whitehead also crossed for the hosts. England took a 38-0 lead into the sheds.

The second half wasn’t half as entertaining as the first. The ever impressive Connor cottoned onto a chip from Myler to score under the sticks. Mark Percival converted and England led 44-0.

France scored their first and only try in the game in the 62nd minute thanks to a cheeky show and go from Theo Fages.

With the game already over by half-time, the game fizzled out in the second period and England sealed a comfortable 44-6 win on home turf.

England: Shaul; Johnstone, Lyne, Percival, McGillvary; Myler, Connor; Graham, Hodgson, T Burgess, Holmes, Whitehead, G Burgess. Subs: Milner, Thompson, Mulhern, Sutcliffe.

France: Robin; Marcon, Gigot, Ader, Miloudi; Fages, Barthau; Belmas, Da Costa, Canet, Jullien, Goudemand, Baitieri. Subs: Marion, Margalet, Yesa, Escamilla.

Starman: It is hard to look past Tom Johnstone who grabbed a hat-trick on his England debut.

Attendance: 5,144

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