England have withstood a first half scare from Bobby Goulding's French side to record a 34-12 victory in the opening match of the 2009 Gilette Four Nations tournament at Doncaster.
In front of a modest 11,529 crowd, the French side made a quiet start, allowing English centre Lee Smith to score the opener before striking back with two quick tries to set up a surprising 12-4 lead at the break. Poor discipline and multiple errors from England gave France the field position, and it was the brilliance out wide from Clint Greenshields that put winger Vincent Duport in, before Kane Bentley made headway up the middle to score one of his own.
France held well in defence and forced plenty of errors between then and halftime, but would not score again. England came out with strong resolve in the second, and the results came quickly as the French struggled to keep up. A double for Richard Myler and a try for goalkicking lock Kevin Sinfield catapulted the home side quickly back to the lead, and they remained there for much of the remainder of the game.
The visiting Frenchmen had the space and time to hit back and with 15 minutes remaining looked likely to do so - until English winger Ryan Hall grabbed an intercept and set out on a 90 metre run to the line, crushing the French side's spirit and giving England a 28-12 lead. Tom Briscoe capped off a solid game on the wing with a late try to take the score to the final figure of 34-12.
It was far from over however, an elbow to the head of Sinfield from French prop David Ferriol was put on report in the final ten minutes, while Jean Phillipe Baile managed to take Richard Myler high in the final minute to earn marching orders as proceedings wound down. Both could be looking at a suspension, which will concern French officials and supporters as they were two of France's best.
England on the other hand look to have done enough to win after a poor first half tonight, but matches against Australia and New Zealand are a completely different story.
Match Details England 34 def France 12 Four Nations Round 1 - Saturday October 24th, 2009 06:00am AEDT Venue: Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster, England Referee: Leon Williamson (NZL) Sideline Officials: Adam Burns (AUS) and Alan Shortall (NZL) Video Referee: Phil Bentham Crowd: 11,529 Halftime: England 4 France 12
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary ENGLAND: 1. Shaun Briscoe 2. Tom Briscoe 3. Lee Smith 4. Michael Shenton 5. Ryan Hall 6. Danny McGuire 7. Richard Myler 8. Jamie Peacock (C) 9. Scott Moore 10. Adrian Morley 11. Gareth Ellis 12. Sam Burgess 13. Kevin Sinfield Interchange: 14. James Graham 15. James Roby 16. Ben Westwood 17. Kyle Eastmond FRANCE: 1. Clint Greenshields 2. Vincent Duport 3. Jean-Philippe Baile 4. S Like