Record-breaking England crush France ahead of Kiwi Tests
24 Oct 2015 - 18:45
London: England fine-tuned their preparations for the forthcoming Test series against New Zealand with a record-breaking 84-4 thrashing of France on Saturday.
Steve McNamara's side ran in 15 tries at Leigh in the perfect warm-up for the three Tests against New Zealand next month.
Substitute second rower Brett Ferres scored a second-half hat-trick and stand-off Gareth Widdop kicked 12 goals from 15 attempts as England surpassed their previous best win, a 73-6 victory over the French at Gateshead in 1996.
John Bateman, chosen ahead of specialist centre Leroy Cudjoe, justified his selection with a man-of-the-match display on debut to press his claims for a spot against the Kiwis in the opening Test in Hull.
Wigan star Bateman scored two tries and fellow debutants George Williams and Joe Burgess also touched down, while winger Ryan Hall extended his lead at the top of England's all-time try chart to 23.
Even replacement prop Tom Burgess got in on the scoring spree, touching down for his first try for his country, much to the delight of older brother Sam, the dual-code international who was among the 8,380 crowd.
McNamara was examining his new half-back combination of Widdop and Williams, but it was difficult to gauge the full merits of the victory because of the inadequate opposition.
Denied the services of around a dozen regulars, France coach Richard Agar was forced to include three debutants as well as six other players with just one cap apiece.