Eight-try England romp marred by indiscipline

England 44 France 6

craven park

The way Kallum Watkins sauntered over for his hat-trick try in the last minute summed up this match for England – a stroll in the Humberside sunshine.

Watkins was the star turn of an English back-line which was too good for France – although not as overwhelmingly so as they were for the Welsh last week.

Unlike that romp at Wrexham, this performance in front of a 7,000 crowd at Hull KR was marred by moments of indiscipline. Gareth Ellis will have a high tackle reviewed by the video panel this week and in the second half they conceded far too many penalties.

Josh Charnley's reward for his four tries against Wales was to be rested in favour of the local boy, Tom Briscoe. Zak Hardaker, the scorer of another two in Wrexham, stood aside for the return of the fit-again Sam Tomkins.

That looks like evidence of a luxury of choice in the outside backs and England always had plenty of strike-power at their disposal.

They first showed that after only five minutes, with Leroy Cudjoe's cross-field run and Richie Myler's long pass setting up Watkins for the first try of his three.

England then benefited from two decisions which could have gone the other way. For the first, the New Zealand referee, Shane Rehm, opted not to take any further immediate action against Ellis for a high tackle that saw the French full-back, Cyril Stacul, helped from the pitch.

He was taken to hospital for scans and is not expected to play next week. "It was an aberration," said the French coach, Aurelien Cologni, who admitted to being "frustrated" by the referee merely putting the matter on report.

The England coach, Steve McNamara, does not expect it to go any further. "Anyone who knows Gareth knows that he's not that sort of player," he said.

The second key decision was the video referee, Phil Bentham, ruling that there had been no second man in the tackle when Myler stripped the ball from Clement Soubeyras, so Briscoe's try was allowed to stand.

That ushered in England's best period of the game and they produced some lovely rugby before half-time, rewarded by tries from Watkins and Tomkins.

There were two more tries immediately after half-time, the first of them, from a neat offload by Adrian Morley, making Tomkins England's leading try-scorer in their history. That is not quite as impressive as it sounds, the national team having played for most of its existence as Great Britain, but his 14th put him ahead of Alf Ellaby in 1935.

The second came from a suspiciously forward pass from Gareth Hock to Briscoe. Hock was an intriguing choice as man of the match, because, at the end of a week full of rumour about him decamping to Australia, he did at least as much bad as good in this game.

England began to lose their way at this stage, not least by conceding seven penalties in a row, many of them when they were in possession.

"We were guilty of some ill-discipline in certain areas," said McNamara. "We gave ourselves a lot of work to do, but we did it."

His captain, Kevin Sinfield, pulled them round with a try to go with his eventual tally off six goals.

France, who had looked unlikely to ever score despite their glut of possession, finally got over the try-line through their hooker, Kane Bentley, before Watkins almost casually claimed his third with an intercept from Eloi Pelissier.

"He's a cracking young man with an amazing amount of talent," said McNamara.

Watkins' emergence has been one of the major pluses of a tournament that has failed to extend England. Under its arcane format, they play France again in the final at Salford next Sunday and it is hard to imagine the outcome being much different.

"We just need to finish the job off now," said Sinfield.

England Tomkins; Hall, Watkins, Cudjoe, Briscoe; Sinfield, Myler; Mossop, McIlorum, Hill, Ellis, Hock, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes used Burrow, Morley, Ablett, Harrison.

France Stacul; Cardace, Pala, Duport, Soubeyras; Bosc, Barthau; Elima, Bentley, Casty, Larroyer, Baitieri, Mounis. Substitutes used Pelissier, Griffi, Bemba, Simon.

Referee S Rehm (New Zealand).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence