Tomkins far too good for willing Wales

England 42 Wales 4: Full-back scores four as England warm-up for tougher tests against Kangaroos and Kiwis
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The Independent Online

Sam Tomkins came away from an afternoon's light exercise with his customary four tries. The Wigan full-back, who is coveted by rugby union, struck twice in each half to match his tally against France on the same ground last year. If Australia and New Zealand did not already appreciate the threat he will pose in the Four Nations, they certainly will now.

"He's quick, he's elusive and he's been in that sort of form all season for his club," said the England coach, Steve McNamara. Tomkins put a gloss on what started as a patchy England performance. The other major success was Leeds's Kevin Sinfield, who provided the crucial pass for five of England's tries and generally controlled the game.

"Kevin was very, very good," said McNamara. "The influence he had on the whole group was enormous." The coach finished up more than satisfied. "I'm really pleased. It was potentially a really tough game."

Much tougher games lie ahead, however, and England will not be able to afford some of the mistakes they made in the first half here when they meet the Kangaroos and Kiwis on the next two weekends.

Wales suffered a damaging blow in the first minute. Jordan James, a prop so enthusiastic about being involved at international level that he sang both national anthems, took the first carry of the match and was felled, concussed, by a legal if brutal tackle from Ben Westwood. James had barely staggered to the dug-out by the time, with 56 seconds on the clock, that Tomkins scored from Rangi Chase's pass, finding an inviting gap wide on the left.

Wales had their moments. Their captain, Lee Briers, pinned England back with a 40-20 kick and James's replacement, Craig Kopczak, was close to forcing his way over. Far more embarrassing for England was the way that Kopczak found a gaping hole in their line and was only halted by Tomkins' tackle around the ankles.

England were indebted to Tomkins in attack and defence in the first half and it was he who took Sinfield's pass, sold a dummy and stretched over the line for his side's second try. Jamie Peacock's knock-on – one of a worrying number of English handling errors – then gave Wales another chance, but Rhys Williams was forced into touch. Ben Flower's lost ball then enabled England to finish the first half with a try, Chase and Sinfield combining to release the Hull centre Kirk Yeaman.

Not surprisingly, England ran away with it after the interval. James Graham's pass sent Gareth Ellis through and Tomkins backed-up to complete his hat-trick. Sinfield then linked with Westwood for Jack Reed to score his second try in his second Test.

Briers was trying everything for Wales. His attempt at a short drop-out conceded a penalty and Tomkins took Sinfield's pass to duck under some weary tackling for his fourth.

Wales deserved some reward for their sheer effort, though, and they got it when a sweeping back-line move and Andy Bracek's final pass allowed the winger Elliot Kear to squeeze in at the corner.

"You've got to give great credit to Wales," said Peacock, the England captain. "They kept going to the end."

The Welsh conceded two more tries. The first had McNamara's overseas recruitment policy printed right through it – Chase to Gareth Widdop to Chris Heighington, who scored. Widdop then took an interception to score the final try after the hooter.

"I'm really proud of them," said the Wales coach, Iestyn Harris. "Physically and mentally they stood up, although our game awareness wasn'twhat it should be."

James showed defiance by returning in the second half, and against New Zealand on Saturday Harris should have Lloyd White and Peter Lupton available.

"We had a real dig and that's what matters," said Briers.

England S Tomkins (Wigan); Hall (Leeds), Reed (Brisbane), Yeaman, Briscoe (both Hull); Sinfield (Leeds), Chase (Castleford); Graham, Roby (both St Helens), Peacock (Leeds, capt), Ellis (Wests), Westwood (Warrington), Heighington (Wests). Replacements Widdop (Melbourne), Morley (Warrington), Jones-Buchanan (Leeds), Wilkin (St Helens).

Tries Tomkins 4, Yeaman, Reed, Heighington, Widdop. Goals: Sinfield 5.

Wales Jones (Halifax); Kear (Crusaders), Webster (Central Comets), Roets (South Wales Scorpions), R Williams; Briers (both Warrington), Seamark (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), J James (Crusaders), Budworth (MacKay Cutters), Dudson (Crusaders), Frizell (Cronulla), Bracek, Flower (both Crusaders). Replacements Watson (Swinton), Divorty (Featherstone), A James (Scorpions), Kopczak (Bradford).

Try Kear.

Referee H Perenara (New Zealand).

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