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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bennett's England thrash France ahead of NZ series

Some new faces impressed as Wayne Bennett's England warmed up for their upcoming series against New Zealand with a 44-6 thrashing of France in Leigh.
Winger Tom Johnstone scored a first-half hat-trick in his Test debut as Bennett called up four new players to his team ahead of their first clash with the Kiwis next weekend (12.30am, October 28 AEDT).
"We're pretty well covered in those positions, but he's someone I've noticed in the last 12 or 18 months and I've been waiting to give him an opportunity," Bennett said of Johnstone in his post-match press conference.
"He's played well tonight but (St Helens winger) Tommy Makinson is a pretty fair player. He's certainly got a future on the wing for England if it's not this year.
"There were a couple of players I hadn't seen play before, so I learned a bit about them.
"It was the type of game we needed."
Rabbitohs prop Tom Burgess opened the scoring in the second minute before Johnstone's rapid hat-trick, with tries to debutant Luke Thompson and Raiders forward Elliott Whitehead giving the hosts a 38-0 half-time lead.
The second half was a closer affair with Hull FC playmaker Jake Connor scoring a try to go with his five goals and St Helens five-eighth Theo Fages crossing for a consolation try for France.
Several big-name players are likely to return to the England line-up for the series against New Zealand.