Rugby League World Cup: England 42-18 France – Shaun Wane’s side close to play-offs

England (18) 42
Attempts: Hall 2, Thompson, Whitehead, Radley, Young 2 Goals: Sneyd 7
France (12) 18
Attempts: Mourgue, Pelissier, Romano Goals: Mourgue 3

England booked their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with a comfortable 42-18 win over France in Bolton.

Shaun Wane’s side have made it two wins from two games after defeating Samoa in their opening match and are +78 points clear at the top of Group A.

They will be aiming to complete the perfect passage to the knockout stages when they face debutant Greece in their final group game in Sheffield next Saturday.

Winger Ryan Hall extended his try-record for England with two in the first 11 minutes, finishing off the team’s quick moves in the corner, while Luke Thompson added a third try.

After a bad start, France bounced back. Arthur Mourgue was quickest to react to a rebound of his own serve and Eloi Pelissier drilled it in from close range for an 18-12 break.

But Elliott Whitehead and Victor Radley crossed early in the second half and winger Dominic Young added two more, including a superb long-range try.

Arthur Romano scored a late consolation for France.

England shows a surge in the second half

The two sides were meeting for the 32nd time, but England continued their dominance with a 21st consecutive victory over France, the last match they lost in February 1981.

The French, who host the next World Cup in 2025, defeated Greece in their first game and were just one try away at the break, but England – as expected – ran away in the second period.

It got off to a flying start as Hall scored twice in the opening 11 minutes, converting through Marc Sneyd’s passes to win his first Test cap, and Herbie Farnworth for similar tries in the left corner.

He extended Hall’s try-scoring record for England to 37 and the Hull KR man is now third all-time international try-scorer alongside Australian great Darren Lockyer.

Striker Thompson then went into doubt between the sticks, creating a chance after a line break by the excellent Radley.

France responded by punishing England’s woes, with Catalan Mourgue touching down with Dragons stand-off and Pelissier hooking Toulouse to silence the home support.

But fears of a major upset were allayed early in the second period when Whitehead converted John Bateman’s offload for his second try of the tournament and Radley scored England’s first try by holding on to Andy Ackers’ kick.

Newcastle Knights winger Young took his lead to four points in the contest, his second of the game following a sensational burst from inside his own half.

Only exceptional circumstances can now see England progress to the last eight.

Samoa will look for their first win against Greece on Sunday before completing their group against France next Sunday.