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Saturday 21st
posted by Morning Star in Sport

Bennett overjoyed with brilliant peformance

ENGLAND coach Wayne Bennett was delighted with his team’s work-out as they warmed up for the World Cup with a 74-12 rout of a Combined Affiliated States team in Perth.

Bennett used all but one of his 24-man squad members for a game played in four quarters at the Perth Oval Stadium to combat the 24°C heat and watched them run in 13 tries against their part-time opponents to flex their muscles ahead of their opening game against Australia in Melbourne next Friday.

“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.”

Scrum-half Luke Gale, wingers Ryan Hall and Jermaine McGillvary and prop Tom Burgess all scored two tries apiece, with the others coming from Elliott Whitehead, George Williams, Kevin Brown, Kallum Watkins and James Roby.

Bennett showed his hand ahead of the Kangaroos game by starting the match 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 Roby making a big impression as replacement hooker.

However, Bennett said Friday’s starting 13 will not necessarily be the one that takes to the field at the Rectangular Stadium, saying: “There are a couple of other players there pushing to get in.”

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

The trio of marksmen rotated throughout the four quarters and Bennett says they will decide between them who takes on the job in Melbourne.

“They were doing their own things and they were all very good,” he said. “It was a pretty impressive display of goalkicking. I’ll let them make the final decision.”