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RLWC Preview: England vs. France

ENG v FRA

England and France will square off in Perth this Sunday in the final match of the group stage of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, with all but formalities to come.

France’s defeat to Lebanon in the opening round and England’s hard-fought win over the Cedars last week all-but ensured that Wayne Bennett’s side will finish second in Group A and secure their place in the knockout stages of the competition, while France will be relying on a miracle victory (and a big win from Australia) to progress through.

That seems unlikely for the French given the expectations on England at the start of the tournament — even without several key players on deck for this Sunday’s game.

Gareth Widdop’s move to fullback will be an interesting storyline to watch throughout the game, while Man of Steel Luke Gale will be looking to finally find some form after an up-and-down start to the World Cup so far. But in reality, neither should have too much of an affect here on how England fare, with a win seemingly locked in for Bennett’s side.

Pool A: England vs. France

MATCH DETAILS

Date — Sunday, November 12, 2017

Time — 9:00pm AEDT

Venue — Perth Rectangular Stadium, Perth

 

LIVE STREAM AND TV INFORMATION

Live Stream — Channel 7’s https://7live.com.au/ (Australia only)

TV — Click here for a full country-by-country list of TV broadcasts.

 

TEAM NEWS

England

 

France

Gareth Widdop

1

Mark Kheirallah

Stefan Ratchford

2

Fouad Yaha

Mark Percival

3

Bastien Ader

John Bateman

4

Damien Cardace

Jermaine McGillvary

5

Ilias Bergal

Kevin Brown

6

Theo Fages (capt.)

Luke Gale

7

Lucas Albert

Chris Hill

8

Antoni Maria

James Roby

9

John Boudebza

James Graham

10

Julian Bosquet

Ben Currie

11

Benjamin Garcia

Mike McMeeken

12

Benjamin Jullien

Sean O’Louglin (capt.)

13

Jason Baitieri

Alex Walmsley

14

Romain Navarrete

Thomas Burgess

15

Thibault Margalet

Scott Taylor

16

Maxime Herold

George Williams

17

Remy Marginet

Reserves (ENG) — Ryan Hall, Elliott Whitehead, Chris Heighington, Kallum Watkins

Reserves (FRA) — Olivier Arnaud, Mickael Rouch, Nabil Djalout, Lambert Belmas

 

RLWC STANDINGS — POOL A

 

Played

Won

Lost

F/A

Points

Australia

2

2

0

+60

4

England

2

1

1

+5

2

Lebanon

2

1

1

-8

2

France

2

0

2

-57

0

 

HISTORY

This will be the 47th time the two nations have faced off, and England have the lion’s share of success — winning 37 overall, and their last 16 matches straight. The French have not beaten England since 1981, when they won 5-1 after neither side managed to score first half points and field goal antics ensued, before a French try sealed the win.

 

PLAYER TO FOLLOW — Gareth Widdop (England)

The Dally M Five-Eighth of the year faces a positional switch against the French, with Wayne Bennett opting to move Widdop to fullback. Widdop has been mostly impressive this World Cup, but had a disappointing outing against Lebanon last week, coming up with four errors, including three forward passes. Interestingly, Widdop has started eight games at fullback in his first-grade career with a 50% win-rate in those games.

 

PREDICTION

Unlikely to move up or down in the group, England should deliver the straightforward performance that many are expecting them to here — the question will be whether they run away with a big victory or not. Wayne Bennett was far from happy with the game they played against Lebanon last week, and with the knockout rounds coming up, he’ll want England to be playing their best footy possible, so we’re expecting the English to not take their foot off the gas and run away with a big victory here. England by 28. 

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