Much like the previous two quarter-finals of the weekend, one side was simply too good for the other, although you couldn’t doubt the effort of the French side, who battled on in similar fashion to Scotland and USA, the losers in the other last eight ties.
France, who had mustered just two tries in their three group games, took a surprise lead inside five minutes.
They had got on to the front foot after a wayward pass by Ben Westwood found Sebastien Raguin inside the England half, and although the French didn’t score on that set, they did use the platform to score minutes later, despite losing hooker Kane Bentley to injury.
Raguin was involved, taking the ball from dummy half at a play the ball 10 metres out, and he managed to get his arms free in the tackle and offload to Vincent Duport, who did well to get over under the attention of a couple of defenders.
It meant England had to come from behind for the second successive week, and they restored parity on 11 minutes. A set move off the base of a scrum 10 metres out enabled Sam Tomkins to tease the French defenders, and he popped up an offload for another home favourite Charnley, back in the side in place of Tom Briscoe after missing the previous two games, to cross in the right corner.
After Eloi Pelissier had been pinned for a high shot on Rangi Chase following an exciting break by the stand-off, Tomkins found Hall in acres of space on the left, and there was no stopping the Leeds wingman.
As the quarter mark passed, the French were getting in all sorts of penalty trouble, and it was off the back of an infringement that England scored their third try, with Kallum Watkins this time taking on the line and feeding Charnley on the far side.
Opposite winger Hall, who had now scored in every game of the tournament so far, added his second before the half hour mark, taking the ball off Leroy Cudjoe after Olivier Elima had fallen off Sean O’Loughlin in a tackle in midfield for 22-6.
Elima was having a torrid time in defence and attack, but at least his second row partner Raguin was causing England a few problems down the left hand side. Twice the Catalan back-rower went close towards the end of the first half, held up both times by Watkins and a combination of other England defenders.
Another crowd favourite, Sean O’Loughlin, broke the wingers’ scoring monopoly with the first try of the second half, eight minutes after the break. George Burgess punched a hole in the France defence, and off Chase’s kick, Hall knocked it back for Cudjoe, who provided the assisting pass for the Wigan captain on his stomping ground.
France grafted throughout the second half, and neither side really threatened the scoreboard for large parts.
It turned out to be the farewell action of man of the match Tomkins, playing his final game at the DW Stadium before his big move Down Under, who was sinbinned for a professional foul with six minutes left on the clock.
Despite the man disadvantage, England finally mustered their second try of the half and seventh of the match, when Brett Ferres strolled through a gap and brought it round under the sticks, with video referee Ben Thaler ruling there hadn’t been an obstruction in the build up.
Photo courtesy of www.swpix.com
England: Tomkins, Charnley, Watkins, Cudjoe, Hall, Chase, Sinfield, Graham, McIlorum, Hill, S Burgess, Westwood, O’Loughlin. Interchanges: Roby, G Burgess, Ferres, Farrell
Scorers: Tries – Charnley (11, 25), Hall (18, 28), O’Loughlin (48), Ferres (77) Goals – Sinfield 5/6
France: Escare, Cardace, Baile, Duport, Greenshields, Bosc, Barthau, Fakir, Bentley, Casty, Elima, Raguin, Mounis. Interchanges: Pelissier, Khattabi, Maria, Simon.
Scorers: Tries – Duport (4) Goals – Bosc 1/1
Half time: 22-6
Referee: Ashley Klein
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan