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England have defeated Samoa 30-10 in a dominant display at Campbelltown Sports Ground tonight in the final match of the Pacific Tests.
Warrington five-eighth Kevin Brown had a superb game for England, having a hand in four of their five tries, while Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson had a field day out of dummy half and controlled the ruck superbly for the visitors.
While it wasn't a performance that coach Wayne Bennett will be overjoyed with, given the amount handling errors in the second half, the effort from his stars in Hodgson, Sam Burgess and James Graham was telling in victory.
Samoa came into the match with a lot of confidence given their line-up was littered with in form NRL stars such as Anthony Milford and Joey Leilua, however England were strong in experience with James Graham and Sam Burgess featuring in a classy pack.
Despite an emotional build up from Samoa, they got off to an awful start when Eels prop Suaia Matagi lost the ball in the opening set and the visitors made them pay, when English winger Ryan Hall scored untouched in the corner after a terrific offload from James Graham, who found Josh Hodgson, who then combined with Sean O'Loughlin who put Hall over for the first try of the night. Luke Gale then converted from the sideline to give England a 6-0 lead after just two minutes.
England continued to dominate possession, with Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson causing the Samoan defence plenty of problems out of dummy half. An unlucky penalty from Broncos lock Josh McGuire, whose foot accidently dislodged the ball in the play the ball, to give England a gift two points right in front of the posts and Luke Gale extended the lead to 8-0.
Samoa were having no issues getting up the field through their big men, however they were directionless on the last tackle, with the men in blue being caught on the last on numerous occasions.
England then picked up the pace, when fullback Stefan Ratchford steamed onto a pass midfield from halfback Gale in a classy backline play. Ratchford then sidestepped Peter Mata'utia in the last line of defence to score under the posts. Gale added the extras and England lead 14-0 at halftime.
Samoa came out with some fire in the second half and looked intent on changing the momentum of the game with some strong runs from their big forwards in Sam Kasiano and Suasuo Sue. They were duly rewarded when centre Joseph Leilua powered over close to the line to get his side back in the game. Anthony Milford added the extras to cut England's lead to 14-6.
Again however, Samoa's options on the last tackle were non-existent at times with inane kicks or simply taking the tackle on the last being the options on multiple occasions which was holding them back from building any sort of pressure on the opposition. When Samoan hooker Pita Godinet knocked on from an attempted grubber, England took their first opportunity when their halves combination of Gale and Brown combined to put Josh Hodgson over for a try under the posts for England to extend their lead to 18-6.
Both sides made some poor handling errors throughout the match, however after English skipper Sean O'Loughlin knocked on twice in quick succession, Samoa got back in the match when Anthony Milford founds some space to score to narrow the gap to 10 points with 15 minutes remaining.
England however put the game to bed, when Bulldogs skipper James Graham scored a try from close range after a short pass from Brown at dummy half and then Brown put the cherry on top for the visitors when he managed to chip over the line to find a flying Jermaine McGilvary to clinch victory for England by 30-10 in a dominant display.
Samoa 10 - England 30
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Halftime Score: Samoa 0 England 14
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Kevin Brown
2 points - Josh Hodgson
1 points - Sam Burgess
Tries: Joseph Leilua, Anthony Milford
Conversions: Anthony Milford (1/2)
Tries: Ryan Hall, Stefan Ratchford, Josh Hodgson, James Graham, Jermaine McGillvary
Conversions: Luke Gale (4/5)
Penalty Goals: Luke Gale (1/1)