England RL v Ireland RL – A Country Expects

rlwcA quieter week in the England RL camp saw coach Steve McNamara announce 3 changes to his squad; with Lee Mossop and Josh Charnley ‘rested’ and Sam Burgess suspended for a week Tom Briscoe, Sean O’Loughlin and James Graham were drafted in. A sunny afternoon in Huddersfield saw Pat Richards start the game with one of his high, challenging kicks in spite of spilling the ball It went backwards and England stayed in possession. Ryan Hall went in first to score his 15th try in 17 starts, Leroy Cudjoe tried his best to mess things up by heading to the try line, but passed just in time.

Looking at the Ireland team and comparing them to the England team feels a bit like watching my Superleague team (hopefully) London Broncos; they seemed small in comparison, never a good thing in the game of rugby league it makes the whole 80 minutes such hard work!

Ireland had a succession of sets but failed to capitalise as England defended well, listening to the commentators it seems they may have the same opinion as me of Mr 7 moves Alibert, questioning his decisions. Cudjoe and Hall combined on the left wing again to see Hall go over the line for his second try, this time converted by Kevin Sinfield taking the score to 10 nil.

Now, a controversial moment in rugby league; the Irish number 8  Brett Whitehad fallen with a head injury and looked very groggy, news came that doctors were very worried and were going to be keeping an eye on him for 5 minutes, yet still he played on! I’ve seen players with rubber legs after taking a blow to the head remain on the field of play, it can only be a matter of time before we read some awful news about a rugby league player! The game surely needs to look at how rugby union is dealing with the issue! Rant over so back to the game.

England’s next try came again from a wide ball, this time a well placed kick by Rangi Chase to the right wing of Tom Briscoe who sneaked in to score. The video ref was asked if Briscoe was on side but the coverage didn’t show the player , bringing the usually useless linesman (not just this one, generally all of them) into matters, as he was directly in line with Briscoe.  Sam Tomkins was given some space after a great pass from his Wigan team mate Sean O’Loughlin, Tomkins passed to Briscoe who stepped inside to score his second try.

An exciting passage of play by England with more than a suspicion of a forward pass from Watkins, I refer back to the useless linesmen, saw some great passes especially by Brett Ferres to send Ryan Hall over for his 3rd. Ferres was to score the next try with Ireland having had not a touch of the ball. The score stood at 30 nil with 24 minutes on the clock. It did appear at this point that Ireland were going to be on the receiving end of a cricket score!  However as I was on a train home from Paris when the game kicked off I’m writing this after the fact so know that things must have changed somewhere.

The most exciting thing about the next 10 minutes was a small show of handbags as Sam Tomkins and Stuart Littler clashed after Tomkins received some unwanted attention; the big boys rushed to Tomkins’ defence and we saw a few pokes in the chest, posturing really. England did have an attacking chance in the last minute but Tomkins’ perfectly good pass to Chase was adjudged forward by the ref.

Another rant from me as the second half starts which I know won’t be popular, the Burgess brothers bandwagon has seen the inclusion of Tom a player with only 9 games under his belt in the run up to the World Cup, for me he’s made too many mistakes; with his brother Sam returning next week and James Graham back in the fold as long as George Burgess is fit I think Tom should take a back seat.

At 30 points to nil the second half was a chance for England to show their intent; I totally agree with the comments of Jonathan Davies they needed to put score another handful of tries against a weak Ireland team; bearing in mind if they make the semi finals the Kiwis are likely to be waiting for them. The fact that the crowd were attempting to get a Mexican Wave up and going is a good indication that the pace of the game wasn’t in line with the first half.

Gareth Widdop joined the fray and showed his class by putting a lovely kick up for Tom Briscoe in the corner, as he was heading for the line he passed inside to give
Kallum Watkins an easy try; Sinfield converted in spite of the wind and the angle.

Not too much going on in the final 20 minutes so another discussion point; the shoulder barge, Sean O’Loughlin was penalised early in the half for a blatant no arms tackle; this was such a huge part of play in rugby league up,to a year ago, but it is now outlawed due to the level of injury it can cause. Bearing in mind we do want theses guys to carry on with their living I do wish the commentators would accept the fact and stop praising the play when it happens! It’s not allowed! So a penalty every time!

England’s final try was scored by Rangi Chase after a piece of Sam Tomkins magic; how he gets through the players he does at times is beyond belief! Chase ran on to the grubbed kick put in by Tomkins to score; Widdop converted and the final score of 42 nil was reached at 69 minutes.

So a very satisfactory win for England, it is unusual to keep a team to zero, as the Kiwis did against France also; I would have liked to have seen more points scored in the second half however to lay a marker down for Fiji who will be tougher opposition. The country seems to be taking this rugby league World Cup to it’s heart, it is a real shame however that England’s games are now coinciding with the rugby union Autumn Internationals, moving the game around the country has I’m certain introduced new fans to the code.

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