Rugby League World Cup: Shock loss for France against Samoa sets-up quarter-final clash with England

Thge French had hoped to face Fiji in the last eight but a 22-6 defeat to Samoa means they will meet the hosts for a place in the semi-finals

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The Independent Online

England may need to guard against complacency when they take on France for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

The French, who were beaten 48-4 in their last meeting with England in Salford 12 months ago, were hoping to secure a quarter-final meeting with Fiji but their 22-6 defeat by Samoa in the final pool match of the tournament in Perpignan on Monday night means they finish third in Group B and take on the runners-up from Group A.

Samoa, who have improved out of sight since losing 52-16 to England Knights in a World Cup warm-up match, produced another physical display to overcome France and set up a mouth-watering showdown with the Fijians in Warrington on Sunday.

The winners of that match will most likely face favourites Australia while an England victory at Wigan on Saturday night would set up a semi-final shoot-out with holders New Zealand, unless Scotland pull off a major shock in the first quarter-final at Headingley on Friday night.

France were level at 6-6 at the break at Stade Gilbert Brutus after Morgan Escare replied to Daniel Vidot's fourth-minute try but Samoa dominated the second half after tightening their discipline to run in three tries without reply.

"It was a disappointing performance from us, particularly in the second half," said France coach Richard Agar, whose side have scored just two tries in their three matches.

"We've got to improve. We did some really good things in the first 40 (minutes) but the level of our performance in the second half is why the scoreboard reads like it does.

"We will need a big lift and a big effort for next week but, if we can play our best football on the day, who knows?".

Leeds hooker or half-back Rob Burrow, who was a tryscorer in that 48-4 win over the French in the final of the autumn international series, is confident England are improving with each match.

"We've got better and better as we've gone along," said Burrow, who scored a try against Fiji on his first appearance of the tournament.

"It's hard playing against each other all year and then coming together and trying to gel straight away. That Italy game obviously showed that."

Burrow is expected to keep his place for the quarter-final at the DW Stadium despite taking a head knock towards the end of last Saturday's game in Hull.

"It was a wierd feeling," he said. "There was no pain. I've had it at least two or three times a year, so I'll be fine."

PA

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