Widdop passes his first Test at a canter

England 60 France 6

By Dave Hadfield at Leigh Sports Village

England won their only international before the autumn's Four Nations in the southern hemisphere as comfortably as had been expected, with Sam Tomkins scoring a record-equalling four tries. He did the damage in the first half, with three of his tries coming in seven minutes shortly before the break.

"He's got that x-factor where he can create something out of nothing," said the England coach, Steve McNamara, of the Wigan half-back.

He described the one-sided game as "very worthwhile", and added: "We showed some good combinations and you could see the amount of talent on the pitch."

The selection of Gareth Widdop at full-back after only two first-grade games in Australia had caused some debate but within minutes he had made international rugby look very easy indeed. The Melbourne Storm man scored with his first touch, capitalising on lovely handling by Kevin Brown, Sam Burgess and Chris Bridge. Then he set up a try for Tom Briscoe with his second.

Widdop was also involved in England's third try, latching on to another clever offload from Burgess to set up Sam Tomkins' first.

It was possibly a little too easy for England and mistakes and poor decisions started to creep into their play. Andrew Bentley scored for France from Rémy Casty's pass out of the tackle and the French captain, Olivier Elima, could have had another when Frédéric Vaccari's kick eluded Widdop.

But the last 10 minutes of the half belonged to Sam Tomkins. He wriggled through at ankle level for his second try, took his brother Joel's pass for his third and made it four from Widdop's kick.

France could have fallen apart, so they deserved some credit for the way they held their own for the first 15 minutes of the second half. That was ended by Adrian Morley's break and another electric dash from Sam Tomkins that culminated with a floated pass to send Michael Shenton over.

France's full-back Constant Villegas was sent to the sin-bin for a trip on Bridge. England cashed in with tries by Gareth Ellis and Bridge. Ellis and Shenton each scored another as the French resistance became paper-thin. It was a case of job done for England.

England: Widdop; Briscoe, Bridge, Shenton, Hall; Brown, S Tomkins; Graham, Sinfield, Peacock, Ellis, Burgess, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Roby, Morley, Westwood, J Tomkins.

France: Villegas; Piquemal, Gossard, Raguin, Vaccari; Gigot, Munoz; Ferriol, Mounis, Casty, Elima, Fakir, Bentley. Substitutes used: Touxagas, Griffi, Simon, Barthau.

Referee: L Williamson (Australia).


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