England's Ryan Hall, right, celebrates scoring during the Rugby League World Cup group A match between England and France at the University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton, England, Saturday Oct. 22, 2022. (Richard Sellers/PA via AP)
BOLTON, England — England’s hopes of taking the Rugby League World Cup were endorsed by the French after they were smashed by the tournament host 42-18 on Saturday.
England followed its 60-6 demolition of Samoa by routing France and all but clinching a berth in the quarterfinals.
France coach Laurent Frayssinous was impressed.
“They have a massive pack of forwards, their back five could be the best in the comp — Tommy Makinson didn’t play tonight — and in their spine they have experienced and quality players,” Frayssinous said. “I am sure they will challenge Australia and New Zealand and will be able to beat them. They definitely can win the World Cup.”
New Zealand underlined its credentials with a second straight group win when it thrashed Jamaica 68-6 in Hull. The Kiwis will advance if Ireland beats Lebanon on Sunday.
Also, Fiji was back in the race after hammering Italy 60-4 in Newcastle, after a heavy opening loss to defending champion Australia.
Winger Ryan Hall gave England an ideal start against France with two tries in the first 11 minutes, extending his record national tally to 37 in 39 tests.
England led 18-0 when France hit back with tries to Arthur Mourgue and Eloi Pelissier to trail 18-12 at halftime.
But England reasserted its authority as expected early in the second half with further tries by Elliott Whitehead and Victor Radley. Dom Young’s two late scores, including a 90-meter interception, added the finishing touches to England’s 21st consecutive win over France spanning the last 27 years.
Center Kallum Watkins will miss England’s last pool match against Greece next weekend after going off with a head knock.
France can join England in the last eight with a win over Samoa next week.
New Zealand winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored four tries including a hat trick inside the first 19 minutes against Jamaica. Jeremy Marshall-King and Brandon Smith added two each among the Kiwis’ 13 tries.
“It was some fun times out there,” Watene-Zelezniak said. “I haven’t had a game like that in a while.”
However, the biggest cheer was reserved for Jamaica fullback Ben Jones-Bishop, who chased his own kick in the 76th minute and scored their first World Cup try. He was given a guard of honor by both teams after the match.
New Zealand finishes the group stage against Ireland next week, while Jamaica completes its first World Cup against Lebanon.
Fiji ran in 10 tries at Italy’s expense.
Maika Sivo, Penioni Tagituimua and Viliame Kikau scored two tries each.
Italy’s try came from Jake Maizen when Fiji was 48 points ahead.
Fiji can reach the quarterfinals if it beats Scotland next Saturday, while Italy would need to upset Australia to have a chance of overhauling Fiji.
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