Any anticipated dramatic improvement in the French national side now that many of its members play in Super League failed to materialise at Headingley last night as England won the Federation Shield.
More than half of the French squad on duty played in the Catalan Dragons' inaugural season, but they looked drained rather than inspired by the experience as the next generation of fringe British Test players eased to a comfortable victory.
Wakefield's Jamie Rooney, in his first match since steering his club side clear of relegation, led the way by scoring a try, setting up two others and kicking three goals. Mark Calderwood made a productive return to his old home ground with two alert tries.
"It was very disappointing," said the French coach, John Monie. "I couldn't believe we were still in the game at half-time."
England's Paul Cullen was more charitable. "They were very dogged and tough," he said. "If they had been more patient with the ball they could have caused us more problems."
It did not take England long to unlock the French defence, Rooney's sharp pass sending Lee Smith over in front of his home supporters within the first two minutes. Smith was also prominent in England's second, running most of the length of the field after James Wynne's kick was charged down. Olivier Charles caught him, but Calderwood came across to cruise over.
France hardly created a chance but they got over just before half-time when Smith's tackle stopped Teddy Saddaoui on the line but Wynne darted over from dummy-half to bring them closer at the break than had looked likely.
England stretched away again early in the second half when Rooney took Ashley Gibson's pass and went straight through Julien Rinaldi's tackle. Matt Diskin's pass to Jamie Jones-Buchanan produced the next try as the French tired.
A precise kick to the vacant wing from Rooney gave Calderwood his second. There should have been more, but instead France got a late consolation from Rooney's Wakefield team-mate, Olivier Elima. "I was very pleased with the defensive effort. We didn't plan to be too expansive," said Cullen, who now has the option of using players not required by Great Britain for the Tri-Nations in the remainder of the competition.
England: Smith (Leeds),Calderwood (Wigan), Whiting (Hull), Gibson (Leeds), Williams (Leeds), Purdham (Harlequins), Rooney (Wakefield) Dowes (Hull), Diskin (Leeds), Crabtree (Huddersfield), Radford (Hull), Jones-Buchanon (Leeds), Ferref (Bradford). Substitutes used: Aston (Wigan), Cook (Bradford), Scruton (Leeds), Bailey (Leeds).
France: Guigue (Carpentras), Zitter (Carpentras), Couturier (Hull KR), Faddaoui (Carcassonne), Charles (Billefranche), Wynne (Toulouse), Rinaldi (Harlequins), Fellous, Berthezene, Guisse (all Catalans), Leima (Wakefield), Cologoni (Lezignan), Mounis (Catalans). Substitutes used: Fakir (Catalans) Borlin (St Gaudens) Raguin (Catalans) Greseque (Pia)
Referee: K Patrick (Warrington).Reuse content