Long inspires England to record heights

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The Independent Online

England answered their critics with a record 14-try demolition of Russia here last night to kick-start their World Cup campaign.

England answered their critics with a record 14-try demolition of Russia here last night to kick-start their World Cup campaign.

While the Bears are years off the pace at international level nothing should be taken away from an England side inspired by Sean Long, who helped himself to 18 points and a hat-trick from Kevin Sinfield - a performance somewhat tempered by the news that Leon Pryce will miss the rest of the tournament after dislocating his shoulder.

England, desperate to get back into the scoring habit after a tryless defeat to Australia in their opening game, looked over-anxious to set the scoreboard in motion, losing the ball on each of their opening six sets of possession. Eventually the passes started to stick and once Sinfield beat Darren Rogers to a grubber kick from Paul Deacon, it was only a matter of time before the game was sewn up.

The captain Andy Farrell kept the momentum going seconds after the re-start, taking out the cover defence with a neat side-step before laying the ball off for Paul Rowley. Then Andy Hay latched on to a flick pass from Sinfield before setting off on a rampaging run to the line. Chev Walker enhanced his growing reputation by showing a firm hand-off on his way to the line and Sinfield wrapped up the first half by picking up a loose ball to dart over unopposed.

A 30-2 lead at half-time allowed coach John Kear the luxury of resting Farrell for the second period to give Long a run at stand-off. He did not disappoint, laying on a walk-in try for Pryce with almost his first touch of the game.

Jamie Peacock was next to feed off Long's ball distribution and crashed over near the right hand corner flag. Rowley started to impose himself and was rewarded as he hacked forward a spilled ball to re-gather between the sticks.

ENGLAND: Wellens (St Helens); Pryce (Bradford), Walker (Leeds), Senior (Leeds), Rogers (Castleford); Sinfield (Leeds), Deacon (Bradford); Stephenson (Wigan), Rowley (Huddersfield), Fleary (Leeds), Peacock (Bradford), Hay (Leeds), Farrell (Wigan, capt). Substitutes used: Long (St Helens), Spruce (Bradford), Howard (Brisbane), Fielden (Bradford)

RUSSIA: Illiasov (Arrow Kazan); Mitrofanov (Arrow Kazan), Doumalkine (Locomotiv Moscow), Cygler (Cairns Brothers), Romanov (Arrow Kazan); Olari (Toulouse), Gavriline (Locomotiv Moscow); Rubin (Sydney City, capt), Lysenkov (Locomotiv Moscow), Campbell (Redcliffe), Sokolov (Locomotiv Moscow), Findlay (Canterbury), Rullis (Wests Tigers). Substitutes used: Kalachkine (Arrow Kazan), Netchaev (Locomotiv Moscow), Jiltsov (Locomotiv Moscow), Postnikov (Locomotiv Moscow).

Referee: B Shrimpton (New Zealand).

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