England thrash Combined Affiliated States 74-12 in opening World Cup warm-up

Rugby League
Luke Gale scored two of England's 13 tries
Luke Gale scored two of England's 13 tries

England gained a useful workout in the build-up to the World Cup, running in 13 tries in a 74-12 rout of a Combined Affiliated States team in Perth.

Coach Wayne Bennett used all but one of his 24-man squad members - St Helens full-back Jonny Lomax was the unlucky one to miss out - for a game played in four quarters at the nib Stadium to combat the 24-degree heat.

Bennett showed his hand ahead of England's opening game against Australia in Melbourne next Friday by starting the game with specialist second rowers John Bateman and Ben Currie in the centre spots and Sam Burgess in the second row of the pack to accommodate both Chris Hill and James Graham up front.

With skipper Sean O'Loughlin packing down at loose forward, England's physical dominance was evident from the start and, after leading 34-6 at half-time, the introduction of Alex Walmsley and Scott Taylor from the bench enabled them to stay on the front foot throughout the game, with James Roby making a big impression as replacement hooker.

Bennett took the opportunity to try out a few half-back permutations, with Gareth Widdop switching between stand-off and full-back while he, Luke Gale and Stefan Ratchford demonstrated that goalkicking will not be a problem as they converted 11 of the tries between them.

England - 7/1 with Sky Bet to win the tournament - made the perfect start when Gale pounced on a handling error inside the first set of the match to score the first of his two tries and the impressive Widdop carved open the shaky States defence to send second rower Elliott Whitehead over for the second only three minutes later.

Left winger Ryan Hall, who is averaging a try a game so far in his 32-Test career, produced a trademark acrobatic finish to extend the lead and right winger Jermaine McGillvary also got in on the act before the end of the first quarter, when the tourists led 22-0.

England were never really stretched and only conceded a try when centre Ben Taylor swooped on a loose pass to romp 80 metres for an interception score, which he converted.

Hall and Gale doubled their try tally before half-time and McGillvary added his second two minutes into the second half as England cut loose with three tries in a seven-minute spell.

George Williams started and finished one glorious move and Roby went over from dummy half before Tom Burgess took centre stage, charging over for two tries as England finished strongly.

Jordan Jacob grabbed a consolation try for the States team but Kevin Brown pounced on a defensive error to touch down at the other end and Widdop once more showed his class to get Kallum Watkins over.

"It was good," Bennett said. "I'm really pleased with it. It was nice to see them enjoy themselves.

"It was a chance to work on combinations and get a bit of contact without being silly. We didn't extend ourselves too much. The game was played in a really good spirit, the other side tried pretty hard so it was good for the game.

"At this stage, we just needed a run to get a bit of match fitness. We know how real it will be next week so it's down to Melbourne and it all starts then."

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