England brushed aside a mediocre France team to advance to the quarter-final stage of the World Cup. Nonetheless, it was far from convincing, especially in an error-strewn second half.
After making a number of changes, it was a dominant first-half from England with Gareth Widdop excelling from his new full-back role. However the second 40 was difficult to watch, with mistakes dominating much of the game.
The Wall of White got off the mark in the early stages, Luke Gale slipping Widdop through a gap to race away and score. The stand-in full-back converted his own try to the delight of the capacity crowd in Perth.
Wayne Bennett’s side continued the onslaught, taking advantage of numbers on the left allowing Stefan Ratchford to score and James Graham then barged over to extend the lead further.
England were flowing in the first-half, running great lines and creating breaks with superb handling and decision making, something the French outfit struggled to contain.
Another try soon followed, Mark Percival finding space out wide to touch down and John Bateman added his name to the try-scorers list on the half hour mark, the Wigan man showing great strength to crash over.
France replied with a score from close range before half-time but it was scant consolation for Benjamin Garcia, Lucas Albert added the extras as England led 26-6 at half-time.
The points certainly didn’t flow in the second-half but Widdop unleashed a fantastic pass in the direction of Jermaine McGillvary who went over the whitewash to extend the lead.
McGillvary made it a brace on the hour mark after quick hands along the line, Widdop unable to add the two points on this occasion, as England moved out to a 36-6 lead.
There were no more points in a poor final quarter from Bennett’s side, as the game descended into a series of unforced errors, something England will need to improve if they stand any chance of progressing to the final.
England: Widdop, Ratchford, Percival, Bateman, McGillvary, Brown, Gale, Hill, Roby, Graham, Currie, McMeeken, O’Loughlin. Interchange: Walmsley, Burgess, Taylor, Williams.
France: Kheirallah, Yaha, Ader, Jullien, Bergal, Fages, Albert, Maria, Boudebza, Harold, Gracia, Bousquet, Baitieri. Interchange: Navarette, Margalet, Rouch, Djalout.
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