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The mid-season international game saw a youthful England side travel to Toulouse without the coach Shaun Wane, who underwent emergency surgery earlier in the week, to take on a France side which comprised many of the Catalans Dragons first team.

France were expected to put on a strong showing but England were strong favourites with the bookies and were handicapped by twenty-two points on the coupon by the bookies despite being internationally rated eighth in the world against an England in third.

This was the fifty-third game between the nations with England having won forty-three of those, the last being a 64-0 victory, the same as the women’s winning score, when the two sides met last year in Warrington, but this was likely to be much closer.

It was a stunning start for the French side when on two minutes Fouad Yaha chased down an Arthur Mourgue grubber into the England goal and got the first hand on the ball to open the scoring. Mourgue added the touchline conversion, a perfect gallic start.

On seventeen Mourgue added a forty-metre penalty after England were caught offside by a vigilant Tom Grant.

A great run from Tom Johnstone saw him break downfield before being tackled ten out and passing to Jack Welsby who grounded one-handed in the left corner to get England on the board. Harry Smith added the conversion from the touchline for 6-8, England right back in the game.

Returning the kick off, England grabbed the lead with Ash Handley taking the pass after a great Harry Newman break to brush off the tackler and ground. Smith was unable to add the conversion but were 10-8 up.

It was back-to-back tries on twenty-seven as England went in again, a Johnstone break through the defensive line saw a superb pass to Newman who again found Handley to cross in the corner. Smith was again unable to add the conversion.

The fourth England try came from Johnstone as fast hands across the field saw Williams find his winger to go over in space in the left corner, the England wingers filling their boots. Smith missed a third conversion, all from being stood on the touchline. After a good opening ten minutes for the French, England had dominated.

A late penalty for France after a late tackle from Oliver Wilson on a kicking Fages gave the home side decent position but the England defence held firm.

It was a scrappy start to the second half from both sides, the ball being put to ground on several occasions.

On fifty minutes France crossed the line with Mickael Goudemand hitting the line but the video replays showed that he spilled the ball under the tackle of Harry Smith as he dropped to the ground to score.

It took seventeen second half minutes for England to extend the lead, Matty Nicholson stooping to ground a Welsby grubber as the French defence was nowhere near. Smith was again wide with the conversion attempt, having an awful afternoon with the tee kicking, England with a 22-8 lead with twenty minutes remaining.

The dam had burst again, Mikey Lewis the playmaker with a fast play the ball which saw Welsby take a pass from Ben Currie to go over for his second of the game. Smith managed to find the target from right in front of the sticks for 28-8, any outside hope of a French fightback had evaporated.

The mercurial Mikey Lewis stepped through the French defence with ease before passing inside to George Williams to run in under the sticks for the seventh England try. Smith was gifted another easy goal to improve his statistics to three from seven and to take England to a 34-8 lead.

As the final hooter sounded Tom Johnstone chased down a Smith chip over the top to collect the ball and evade the tackler to dive in for his second of the game. Smith hit the mark from the touchline for a final score of 40-8.

The Dragons contingent made this much more of a game than the outing last year and gave England a bit of a shock in the opening exchanges when they went out to an 8-0 lead. Once England hit their stride though it was plain sailing as they found gaps in the French defence with ease and scored some scintillating tries. Shaun Wane will have learned little from his hospital bed back in the UK that he couldn’t know from watching Super League on a weekly basis, but with the number of youngsters on show there is some promise for the England side over the next few years.

France: Mourgue (2/2 G), Yaha (T), Laguerre, Griffier, Miloudi, Rougé, Fages, Navarette, Da Costa, Bousquet, Goudemand, Seguier, Garcia. Subs: Tison, Chan, Sangaré, Maria. 18th Man: Lima. 

England: Welsby (2T), Johnstone (2T), Wood, Newman, Handley (2T), Williams (T), Smith (4/8 G), Thompson, O`Neill, Lees, Currie, Nicholson (T), Minchella.  Subs: Lewis, Harrison, Dupree, Wilson. 18th Man: Delaney.

Half-Time: 8-18.

Full-Time: 8-40.

Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 8-0, 8-4, 8-6, 8-10, 8-14, 8-18 :HT: 8-22, 8-26, 8-28, 8-32, 8-34, 8-38, 8-40 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: France – England.

Referee: Tom Grant (England).  



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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 29th Jun 2024 6:51 PM | Views : 2670 | Replies : 1 | BACK TO STORIES