Gareth Widdop scored a try and added four conversions for England
Rugby League World Cup
England (26) 36
Tries: Widdop, Ratchford, Graham, Percival, Bateman, McGillvary 2 Goals: Widdop 4
France(6) 6
Try: Garcia Goal: Albert

England set up a World Cup quarter-final against Papua New Guinea by easing past France in Perth.

Although Wayne Bennett’s side won by a comfortable 30-point margin, the Australian head coach will be concerned by another disjointed showing.

England effectively ended the contest after just nine minutes by scoring three quick tries courtesy of the impressive Gareth Widdop, Stefan Ratchford and James Graham.

Centres Mark Percival and John Bateman both went over but French forward Benjamin Garcia’s brilliant dummy allowed him to touch down from close range before half-time.

Jermaine McGillvary took his tally to nine tries from eight games by scoring twice in a scrappy the second half, but the team failed to add further points to the scoreboard.

England will face Papua New Guinea in Melbourne next Sunday (kick-off 05:00 GMT), live on BBC TV, radio and online.

Widdop impresses from full-back

Bennett made five changes to his team to give the fringe players a runout in the competition, but the Australian now has a selection headache for the next game in the knockout stages.

Veteran Kevin Brown showed his experience by directing the play and was heavily involved in England’s free-flowing attacking play in the first 40 minutes, combining superbly with half-back partner Luke Gale and Widdop.

The St George Illawarra Dragons player was switched to full-back from stand-off, but his support play provided a constant threat to the French defence and he opened the scoring by breaking clear in the opening two minutes.

It was Widdop’s speed and quick offloads which allowed Percival and McGillvary’s first try, while he also added eight points with the boot.

Former Great Britain international Jonathan Davies said on BBC Two: “Widdop is going to play in the quarter-final next weekend, but where is most beneficial? I think it is full-back. He has got great vision, a great kicking game and he is a finisher.”

St Helen full-back Jonny Lomax, who is recovering from injury, may well be the man to miss out again.

Mistakes will annoy Bennett

England defended well in their defeat by Australia and were incoherent in attack in their victory over Lebanon.

Bennett had asked for “a mistake-free game” against France and will be annoyed he did not get this.

His side made 13 handling errors in the match, 10 of which came in the second half, and missed a total of 20 tackles.

McGillvary, allowed to play after being cleared of biting in the previous game, dropped a simple high kick and from the resulting set Tom Burgess tried to anticipate Garcia’s pass, but the Frenchman threw a dummy and burrowed in from close range.

Although Huddersfield’s McGillvary – who hobbled off with an injury – scored twice in the second half, his efforts came 20 scoreless minutes apart in which his side failed to complete sets and dropped balls when they should have converted.

Castleford forward Mike McMeeken took his eye off the ball and spilled a pass when he should have scored, while prop James Graham gave the ball away when attempting to offload but went unpunished as Lucas Albert ran 70 metres to score, but referee Phil Bentham adjudged a forward pass in the move.

World Cup quarter-finals
Friday, 17 November Australia v Samoa 09:00 GMT Darwin
Saturday, 18 November New Zealand v Fiji 04:00 GMT Christchurch
Saturday, 18 November Tonga v Lebanon 06:30 GMT Wellington
Sunday, 19 November England v Papua New Guinea 05:00 GMT Melbourne

England: Widdop, Ratchford, Percival, Bateman, McGillvary, Brown, Gale, Hill, Roby, Graham, Currie, McMeeken, O’Loughlin.

Interchanges: Walmsley, T Burgress, Taylor, Williams.

France: Kheirallah, Yaha, Ader, Jullien, Bergal, Fages, Albert, Maria, Boudebza, Herold, Garcia, Bousquet, Baitieri.

Interchanges: Navarette, Margalet, Touch, Djalout.

More to follow.


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