Peacock's men run in twelve to crush French

France 22 England 16
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The Independent Online

Richie Myler arrived upon the international stage in record-breaking style with a 30 point tally against the pitiful French.

The 19-year-old Salford scrum-half scored three tries, set up a couple more and landed nine goals from 12 attempts, despite never kicking in a senior match before.

"That's the sort of confidence he has," Tony Smith, the England coach, said. "I had no qualms about giving him the job when he put his hand up and I would have no qualms about playing him against Australia or New Zealand this autumn."

The French coach, Bobbie Goulding, himself a Test scrum-half from the same hot-bed of Widnes, has long been a fan of young Myler and saw nothing to change his mind in Paris last night.

"I think he's an outstanding talent, but a scrum-half can always be outstanding behind a pack like that," he said.

The England forwards, spearheaded by a non-stop display from Bradford's Sam Burgess, were indeed far too good for a weakened French pack, while Danny McGuire, thriving on a leadership role, combined well with Myler.

As Smith admitted, however, it would take stronger opposition than this to test England's mettle with the Four Nations later this year in mind.

It took England seven minutes to get into their stride, but once they did there was no holding them back as they rampaged through some inept French defence.

It was Myler's deft kick that started the rout, forcing Constant Villegas to knock the ball dead for a drop-out, from which Gareth Hock's run and pass sent Ryan Atkins over.

Almost immediately from the restart, Danny McGuire started and finished an attack involving Shaun Briscoe and Scott Moore. It was also McGuire's superb pass that sent Sam Burgess charging through to set up Myler's first try.

His second was the result of equally alert backing-up, capitalising on a wonderful one-handed pass around the corner from his captain, Jamie Peacock.

The young scrum-half also showed his toughness when he was lined up by the bulky French centre, Jean-Phillipe Baile, for a big hit. It was Baile who stayed on the grass as Myler got up for a quick play-the-ball that saw Peter Fox score in the corner.

A foot in touch from Frederic Vaccari was typical of the French mistakes that kept them under pressure, with McGuire sending Ryan Hall away to score on the opposite wing.

The half ended with a swift double for Briscoe, having a field day on the counterattack and scoring first from Myler's pass and then from Hock's break.

France gave their coach a few crumbs of consolation after the break, starting with Baile's try from Thomas Bosc's clever kick. They also slowed the rate of attrition, only conceding James Roby's try, from Eorl Crabtree's pass, in the third quarter.

But it was soon time for England to cut loose again, starting when Myler supported Peter Fox's break from dummy-half.

Burgess got a richly deserved try and Myler should have had a fourth but dropped Adrian Morley's pass. "I was gutted," said the young man who had already overhauled Steve Prescott's record of 22 points against the French in 1996.

The dubious honour of rounding off proceedings fell to the French second-rower, Cyril Gossard, who touched down from another Bosc kick, but their side had been played off the park long before that.

"When a team as big as that gets roll on, they can be very difficult to stop," a reflective Goulding said. "And we didn't stop them in the first half."

France: Villegas; Duport, Planas, Baile, Vaccari; Murcia, Bosc; Casty, Bentley, Guisset (capt), Gossard, Mounis, Anselme. Substitutes used: Martins, Gagliazzo, Barthau, Griffi.

England: Briscoe; Fox, Shenton, Atkins, Hall; McGuire, Myler; Morley, Moore, Peacock (capt), Hock, Westwood, Burgess. Substitutes used: Roby, Graham, Clubb, Crabtree.

Referee: J Maxwell (Australia)