Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Waiting game for final pool rounds contest.
Pool A will finally conclude in this match and by kick-off both nations will know if the match has a meaning or not. On one side, England could be fighting for the top spot, on the other France could be fighting for survival. England have had a more than intriguing World Cup. Many fans could make the argument that the 18-4 defeat against Australia didn't look right on the scoreboard. The same argument could be said for the 29-10 defeat of Lebanon, particularly with many decisions made by the English officials. The latter match also made headlines during the week when English winger Jermaine McGillvary was found not guilty for a biting allegation made by Lebanese halfback Robbie Farah. After everything, the English will be focusing completely on this match with a second placing in this pool having a much easier match than the third. A second placing will see the English face the Pool C winner, most likely Papua New Guinea. A defeat could potentially see them face the Pool B winner, either New Zealand or Tonga. It makes it a very simple goal for the English.
France have had two tough defeats to begin their World Cup campaign. Following the tough loss to Lebanon, the French were simply no class for Australia in Canberra. The 52-6 scoreline really did say enough for the game, with the Australians scoring at ease during a few points in the game. Their only highlight was a length of the field try to fullback Mark Kheillarah to make it a shock 10-6 scoreline roughly a half hour into the game but that was as good as it got for the tricolours. France's record against England in Rugby League doesn't really make for good viewing, having won just eight tests from forty-eight against England. Many will be hoping for an upset this time around.
A very similar English side to this week took on France before the Four Nations of 2016 for a relatively simple win. Leading 22-6 at the break, the English overpowered their opposition in what was Wayne Bennett's first match in charge of the English side.
Last RLWC meeting: Quarter Finals 2013 - Lions 34 France 6
Who to watch: Mark Kheirallah certainly had the game of his life against Australia. 180 running metres, plenty of those made up by his individual brilliant try against the run of play. The confidence of the former one time Sydney Roosters half to make the play may just drive him on in preparation in a match against the English.
It's hard to pinpoint who has starred for England following two matches where the scoreline didn't really reflect the game. Certainly the star for their second game for mine was Leeds centre Kallum Watkins. Having been declared "the English Greg Inglis" since Greg Inglis was a thing, Watkins had plenty of strong runs against Lebanon, alongside a 25 tackle count defensively against the aggressive Cedar backs.
My tip: France certainly put in a huge effort against Australia, but up against yet another top opponent they just cannot take a trick with this draw. It should prove too difficult for the French as England will hope to build up strong before the Quarter Finals. England by 42.
1. Gareth Widdop 2. Stefan Ratchford 3. Mark Percival 4. John Bateman 5. Jermaine McGillvary 6. Kevin Brown 7. Luke Gale 8. Chris Hill 9. James Roby 10. James Graham 11. Ben Currie 12. Mike McMeeken 13. Sean O'Loughlin 14. Alex Walmsley 15. Thomas Burgess 16. Scott Taylor 17. George Williams
1. Mark Kheirallah 2. Fouad Yaha 3. Bastien Ader 12. Benjamin Jullien 5. Ilias Bergal 6. Theo Fages 7. Lucas Albert 8. Antoni Maria 9. John Boudebza 16. Maxime Herold 11. Benjamin Garcia 10. Julian Bousquet 13. Jason Baitieri 14. Romain Navarrete 15. Thibault Margalet 19. Mickael Rouch 20. Nabil Djalout