England 44 France 6
3rd November 2012
Sam Tomkins became England’s all-time leading tryscorer as Steve McNamara’s men followed up their 80-12 rout of Wales with an equally impressive demolition of France at Craven Park.
The Wigan Warriors full-back, who missed the Wales game with a knee injury, marked his return with two first-half tries to take his tally for England to 14 in as many appearances, breaking the record set by former Wigan and St Helens winger Alf Ellaby in 1935.
Centre Kallum Watkins provided a further illustration of his exceptional talent with a well-taken hat-trick, while winger Tom Briscoe marked his recall with two tries to climb into the top-10 list as England drew first blood ahead of next Sunday’s final at the City of Salford Stadium.
England were coasting at 38-0 before hooker Kane Bentley scored France’s only try to provide a minor irritation for McNamara, who would otherwise be delighted with his side’s latest build-up to the 2013 World Cup.
France were without two of their most experienced forwards in Sebastien Raguin and Jamel Fakir, in addition to the retired David Ferriol, and they suffered a body blow with the loss of full-back Cyril Stacul with concussion just 14 minutes into the match.
The high tackle resulted in second rower Gareth Ellis being put on report by New Zealand referee Shane Rehm and he must wait to discover if he will face any further disciplinary action.
The visitors, who had four forwards on the bench, were forced to reshuffle their side, with chief playmaker Thomas Bosc switched to full-back, and it added to the size of their task.
It was largely routine for England from the sixth minute when Watkins demonstrated his class, taking a pass from Ellis - with whom he has already established a lively partnership - to score the opening try.
Kevin Sinfield kicked the touchline conversion to make it 6-0 but England were then forced to show their mettle in defence, with Gregory Mounis forcing a drop-out and winger Damien Cardace tackled just short of the line.
However, their defence was not seriously tested again before half-time, with Sinfield’s men running in three more tries to establish a 20-0 cushion.
Scrum-half Richie Myler stole the ball from French winger Clement Soubeyras to get Briscoe away for his first try and provided the final pass for Tomkins to go over for his first, while a strong run from Leroy Cudjoe set up the position for Watkins to grab his second try.
The only respite for the French came when Sinfield surprisingly missed two conversion attempts, but their defence cracked again within two minutes of the restart when Adrian Morley’s outrageous offload provided the space for Tomkins to score his second try.
Second rower Gareth Hock, England’s man of the match who caused the French countless problems with his offloading game, worked Briscoe over for his second try on 48 minutes and Sinfield’s fourth goal made it 32-0.
Les Tricolores responded valiantly despite losing Kevin Larroyer and Mounis with leg and arm injuries respectively, but England’s defence held firm.
With the game won, McNamara could afford to take Tomkins off for the last 20 minutes and Sinfield stretched his side’s lead by jinking his way over for a solo try on 67 minutes.
France grabbed a consolation score nine minutes from the end through Bentley, to which Bosc added the goal.
However, England had the final say when Watkins scored an interception try to complete his hat-trick, and Sinfield kicked his sixth goal from eight attempts to finish with 16 points.