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England vs France

2017 Rugby League World Cup, November 12

Perth Rectangular Stadium, Perth, WA
England France
36 SCORE 6
7 Tries 1
4 Conversions 1
0 Penalty Goals 0
0 Field Goals 0

France will need something of a miracle if they are to qualify for the Rugby League World Cup finals when they take on European rivals England who need to make a statement about their form. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 9pm (AEDT).

The French were hammered last week at the hands of Australia, but the score looked worse than the game actually was.

While 52-6 illustrates a thrashing – and the second half was – it could have been a whole lot worse had the goalline defence of the red, white and blue not been up to scratch in the first half.

They turned up time and time again to shut down the Australian side and while things skipped away from them at the end of the first half and into the second as the fitness issue caught up with them, they had some strong performances.

Fullback Mark Kheirallah was superb in both defence and attack, scoring possibly the try of the tournament, while half Theo Fages also had plenty of input with his kicking game.

They were outclassed in the forwards though, spending a majority of the match in defence, and even without Sam Burgess for England, we can expect similar this week.

England have one of the better packs at the tournament – which is hardly a surprise – but even without Burgess, they are led by James Graham, Chris Hill and 400-game Super League player Sean O’Loughlin.

All have been in superb touch, while Alex Walmsley adds size off the bench which won’t be matched anywhere in their opposition.

Despite the superior advantage up front, England have struggled for attacking continuity, and that was shown last week as they struggled to put Lebanon to the sword, in the end, taking out a gritty and less than convincing 29-10 victory.

Wayne Bennett has made some changes this week though and with Dragons half Gareth Widdop moving to fullback, allowing Kevin Brown to line up alongside Luke Gale in the halves, it adds an intriguing scenario ahead of the finals.

The Lions have to find a way to convert their attacking opportunities and maybe a new-look spine is the way to do that.

Prediction
England should be far too strong for their European rivals. They need to build form before the finals, and France, while fighting hard last week, are a class below the other Group A teams.

England by 24.

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One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.