France B 6-18 England Knights: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

In what was a war of attrition in France and required defensive resolve from Paul Anderson’s England Knights, the young England side had enough to comfortably beat their French counterparts 18-6 tonight.

Highlights:

Walker short ball sees Trout walk over
We often are waxy-lyrical about long range tries, but often the short range ones take just as much skill and we saw that from future England hooker Danny Walker to open the scoring. He stepped out of dummyhalf, sucked in the defence and opened a gap for Owen Trout to plough through.

Stern English defence
If England’s first team are going to win the World Cup, they will want to replicate the stern defence on show from the Knights tonight. Though they opened the scoring, they spent a lot of the opening quarter defending their own line resurgently and escaped a few near misses with some scrambling defence.

Lovely blindside move nearly results in try
A lovely blindside play from England saw Liam Tindall burst down the left edge. The Leeds winger perhaps should have cut inside or tried to find a pass, but instead he looked to do the sensational and kick ahead and it’s a shame it didn’t yield what would have been a spectacular try.

Russell makes it two for the Giants
Olly Russell got England’s, and by extension Huddersfield’s, second try of the night when he backed up a Mikey Lewis kick which was fumbled by the opposition, flicked up by Will Pryce to his Giants teammate to score.

Quick hands leads to try three
England Knights’ third try of the night came courtesy of some slick hands down the right hand side. centre Deon Cross provided the try pass for Josh Thewlis to go over.

Justin just gets over
Bouscaryrol Justin got France on the board though he really had to squeeze over. After the French had probed with powerful runs including from Scimone Bastien, hooker Justin squeezed the ball down.

Longstaff to the resecure
That try, though emphasising the impressiveness of England’s defence which took a score like that to be breached, gave France a whiff of an upset. It could have been more a few minutes later as they probed with a lovely grubber kick destined to be grounded for a try. However, England survived by the skin of their teeth as Ellis Longstaff flicked the ball out of play.

Talking Points:

Fiery French
IMG said this week that international rugby needs to be given more focus in their recommendations and tonight we saw a glimpse as to why. In the first half, tempers boiled on three occasions leading to moments of fracas. This serves to show just how much representing their country means to players and therefore why the emotions and spectacle of international rugby needs to be maximised in the eyes of IMG.

What the future international calendar looks like
The proposal for the mid-season international window by IMG would see England take on France in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair games in a move that would certainly benefit both England and France in their development. It’s likely that these two teams would be incorporated in that boosting development further.

Future England spine
In Danny Walker, Jez Litten, Olly Russell, Mikey Lewis and Will Pryce, we may have the makings of a brilliant and well balanced English spine, though the likes of Lewis Dodd may have something to say about this. In Lewis and Pryce, England have two men deserving of their own highlights reels whilst Olly Russell, despite being of a young age, is a great organiser. The future looks bright for key positions in the England first team.

Matt Whitley deserves full cap
Last year when Catalans were marching onto the Grand Final, it was easy to make the argument that the Dragons had the best backrow in Super League and Mike McMeeken was rewarded for the role he plays in that backrow with a call up for the World Cup on Friday but partner Matt Whitley was overlooked. Whitley instead captained the Knights and very much impressed. I would like to see him play for the first team.

Player Ratings

1 Will Pryce – 8
2 Josh Thewlis – 7
3 Deon Cross – 7
4 Jake Wardle – 7
5 Liam Tindall – 7
6 Olly Russell – 7
7 Mikey Lewis – 8
8 Owen Trout – 8
9 Danny Walker – 8
10 Ethan Havard – 7
11 Matt Whitley – 8
12 Jordan Lane – 7
13 Matty Nicholson – 7
Substitutes
14 Jez Litten – 8
15 Ellis Longstaff – 8
16 Matty English – 7
17 Tyler Dupree – 7

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