venue: Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
13th June 2009
Full Match Report
England kicked off the post-World Cup era with a 12-try demolition of France in a one-sided mid-season international in Paris. Coach Tony Smith was looking for a pick-me-up after England's dismal World Cup campaign last October and he fielded a young side full of in-form players for a match with the under-strength French.
They did Smith proud, 19-year-old Salford scrum-half Richie Myler took his haul for the evening to 30 points with nine conversions, six of those coming before the interval which England went into 44-0 up.
France, led for the first time by former Great Britain scrum-half Bobbie Goulding, were embarrassed in the first half but improved after the break, with Jean-Philippe Baile and Cyrille Gossard getting their tries and Thomas Bosc booting two conversions.
The second half was less of a run in the park for the English, but Smith will be satisfied with his players' performance. They now have the end-of-season Four Nations to look forward to now. England's previous highest score against France was 73-6 back in 1996 in an international in Gateshead. But given the scratch team France were putting out, many were confident that record would be under threat. It almost materialised, but not quite.
Goulding was missing seven key players - including Dimitri Pelo, vice-captain
Olivier Elima and big forward Jamal Fakir - and Les Tricolores were coming off a
World Cup campaign that saw them pick up the dreaded wooden spoon. Their last win over England came in 1981, but it was clear from the off that Smith had nothing to worry about tonight.
It took eight minutes for England to claim their first try - and after that, it was a procession in front a sparse crowd at the Stade Jean-Bouin. Castleford centre Shenton took a pass on the burst down the left channel to go over for the opener before McGuire started and finished a length-of-the-field move for number two. It was embarrassingly easy even at this early stage and worse was to come for Goulding, who was holding his head in his hands from almost the first whistle.
A cricket score was in the offing as Myler grabbed a quick brace, his first coming when he was on the shoulder of a bulldozing Burgess before he took a sensational offload from captain Jamie Peacock to barge over for his second. Myler, in great form for Salford this season and targeted by Goulding himself as a man to watch tonight, converted the first four and but missed the next two following scores by wing duo Hall and Fox.
Myler took a massive hit from France centre Baile but was still able to make a quick play-the-ball, while Baile was on the floor in agony, to enable Fox to go over in space on the right.Debutant Hall, the in-form Leeds flyer, went over in the other corner in the 26th minute. By that stage it was 32-0 to Smith's men, with the beleaguered Les Tricolores bruised and battered.
Briscoe picked up a brace of tries, converted by Myler, before the half-time bell, which would have been music to the ears of Goulding. France were first out for the second half, no doubt with their ears ringing after 10 minutes with Goulding, and they were far better after the break.
They managed to put points on the board in the 43rd minute when Baile ran onto a Bosc kick to catch and ground in one movement. And England did not have things all their own way, although their tries kept coming.
Two replacements combined for their ninth, Eorl Crabtree popping up a pass for Roby to crash over. And after a male streaker had held up England's charge on the hour mark, Myler - completing his hat-trick - and Burgess went over for two more. Fox and Gossard traded scores in the final 10 minutes but the night was comfortably England's
Constant Villegas, Vincent Duport, Sebastien Planas, Jean Philippe Baile, Frederic Vaccari
Mickaël Murcia, Thomas Bosc, Remi Casty, Andrew Bentley, Jerome Guisset (c), Cyril Gossard, Gregory Mounis, Eric Anselme. Subs: Sebastien Martins, Romain Gagliazzo, William Barthau, Matthieu Griffi.
Shaun Briscoe, Peter Fox, Michael Shenton, Ryan Atkins, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Richard Myler, Adrian Morley, Scott Moore, Jamie Peacock (c), Gareth Hock, Ben Westwood, Sam Burgess. Subs: James Roby, James Graham, Tony Clubb, Eorl Crabtree.