A dominant first half display saw England, minus many of their regular stars, see off France with a 44-6 victory in Leigh. Here’s how the match unfolded…
England got off to a dream start, scoring within the first two minutes. Tom Burgess backed himself and crashed over for the four-pointer. Although not getting over the line again until the 13th minute, England dominated possession despite both side dropping the ball. Then it was Tom Johnstone’s time to shine, adding his three try tally within the space of the next 25 minutes.
Richie Myler, Luke Thompson and Elliott Whitehead all crossed before the hooter for half-time, with Jake Connor converting five goals. This gave England a lead of 38-0 going into half-time.
The start of the second half was testing for both sides. England looked like they lacked motivation and intensity and France looked beaten. England were first to score with Jake Connor’s superb solo effort, Mark Pervical added the goal. There was a consolation try for France when Theo Fages found a gap in England’s sleepy defence to go over to score and William Barthau converted.
It is clear that there is plenty of room for improvement going into the test series for England. Although they will have a changed side, they still need to lift their game. New Zealand looked impressive against Australia in their last match before travelling over so England will need to pull out all the stops to win this series. Every player needs to be on top of their game or they will get out-muscled quickly.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
STREAMING COULD BE THE WAY FORWARD
There were mixed opinions on the viewing of the game. Many think the idea of streaming is the new way of us being able to watch the matches we want to. Many struggled to actually load up the video. There were many technical glitches with the Our League app causing many to abandon the attempt. Whilst streaming does have its place, it would’ve been nice to see the game televised with very little other sport happening on a Wednesday evening.
HEADACHE SELECTION FOR ENGLAND AND KNIGHTS
There wasn’t a stand-out performer of the evening with both halves putting in a good showing, the forwards gaining plenty of metres and the backs helping out when needed. None of the players looked out of place in an international squad and will all want to push for a starting spot in the main England and the Knights squad. It will be interesting to see come next season, who can elevate themselves from the Knights to the senior team.
Man Of The Match- Tom Johnstone (England)
Getting a first-half hat-trick on your England debut is pretty much as good as it gets for the Wakefield winger and they were not all easy scores. He took his chance with both hands with Tommy Makinson likely to get his spot back for the game in Hull. Mark Percival served him some great balls and the two seemed to strike up a solid partnership. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Johnstone in the England set-up in years to come.
Tries: T Burgess, Johnstone 3, Myler, Thompson, Whitehead, Connor
Goals: Connor 5, Percival
Drop Goals: n/a
Drop Goals: n/a
ENGLAND: Jamie Shaul; Tom Johnstone, Reece Lyne, Mark Percival, Jermaine McGillvary; Richie Myler, Jake Connor; James Graham, Josh Hodgson, Tom Burgess, Oliver Holmes, Elliott Whitehead, George Burgess.
Interchanges: Adam Milner, Luke Thompson, Robbie Mulhern, Liam Sutcliffe.
FRANCE: Stanislas Robin; Paul Marcon, Tony Gigot, Bastien Ader, Hakim Miloudi; Theo Fages, William Barthau; Lambert Belmas, Alrix Da Costa, Bastien Canet, Benjamin Jullien, Mickael Goudemand, Jason Baitieri.
Interchanges: Anthony Marion, Thibaud Margalet, Valentin Yesa, Bastien Escamilla.
Referee: Chris Kendall