McNamara learns nothing new from beating the Exiles

 

Langtree Park

It is debatable how much Steve McNamara really learned from his England team's victory over the best – or some of the best – of Super League's overseas players.

England defeated the Exiles 18-10 at St Helens and were never in serious danger of being beaten. In difficult conditions, however, the game was such a mess that it was impossible to draw many firm conclusions from it.

A monsoon deluge at Langtree Park made handling a challenge – and one to which neither side could consistently rise. All three England tries stemmed from a sound kicking game, while the home defence was equally solid.

These are the sorts of things that please coaches but hardly set pulses racing among paying customers. If many of the 11,000 crowd anticipated an International Origin match of a higher intensity than the average Super League game, let alone the State of Origin upon which it is loosely modelled, they will have been sadly disappointed.

The Exiles were not helped by a series of withdrawals from their original squad. When they dropped out, it was often hard to call up the ideal replacement, because a number of players not selected had opted for a mid-season holiday.

On top of that, Daniel Anderson's team lost its captain, Thomas Leuluai, carried off with a nasty ankle injury mid-way through the second half. With the half-back expected to be out of action for two months, his club Wigan could turn out to be the biggest losers from Saturday night.

As for the winners, Saints hooker James Roby was the obvious stand-out, asking a range of questions from dummy-half and making vital tackles. Eorl Crabtree was the most effective prop forward on show, while Sam Tomkins several times confirmed his ability to come up with the special and the unexpected – but we all knew that already.

McNamara was also pleased with the debut of Carl Ablett in the centres. His tackling was certainly up to the general standard but, like those around him, he had plenty of problems with the ball in his hands.

For him, though, it felt like a definite step up from playing for Leeds. "It was more intense," Ablett said. "It felt like a play-off game, with that war of attrition where you're playing for field position. It was a tough game out there, but with the conditions we couldn't get any rhythm into our play."

Both coaches promised a more expansive approach – weather permitting – in the second game of the series at Huddersfield on 4 July. McNamara would not be drawn on any personnel changes but there will surely be a lobby in favour of giving Danny Brough a run on his home ground.

Wales were beaten 28-16 by France in Wrexham, but a side with little top-flight experience emerged with a good deal of credit. Two tries from Warrington's Rhys Williams helped to keep them in touch, but the French, with two apiece from Cyril Stacul and Mathieu Griffi, always had the edge.

England: S Tomkins, J Charnley, C Ablett, R Atkins, R Hall, K Sinfield, R Chase, E Crabtree, J Roby, J Peacock (capt), G Hock, D Tickle, S O'Loughlin. Replacements: R Burrow, G Carvell, L Mossop, J Jones-Buchanan.

Tries: Hock, Tickle, Tomkins. Goals: Sinfield (3).

Exiles: S McDonnell, J Monaghan, I Soliola, D Millard, F Meli, T Leuluai, S Dureau, T Puletua, L Hohaia, J Lima, W Manu, T Waterhouse, D Fa'alogo. Replacements: D Faiumu, A Laffranchi, A Kaufusi, E Lauaki.

Tries: Meli, Millard. Goals: Dureau.

Referee: B Thaler.

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