By Robert Burgin, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 3/11/13
ENGLAND has shown it will remain a genuine contender for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, blowing away Ireland 42-0 in front of a sold-out Huddersfield crowd.
The hometown of rugby league was treated to a spectacle in attacking football, as the English raced to an insurmountable 30-0 halftime lead.
It was a day for the city to celebrate, with Huddersfield local Leroy Cudjoe throwing the last pass for three tries and almost 25,000 filling the stands for a stadium record.
While it was a runaway result there were several discussion points in the aftermath.
Accusations of kicking against the English, some curious decisions by French referee Thierry Alibert and one of the tries of the tournament kept interest levels high.
Featherstone Rovers half Liam Finn gave initial signs that the Irish wouldn’t lay down, unceremoniously stealing the ball from English captain Kevin Sinfield in the second minute.
But it was far from a portent of how the afternoon would play out, with leftside pair Cudjoe and Ryan Hall combining for two tries in the first 13 minutes.
Not wanting to be outshone by Hall’s early double, fellow English winger Tom Briscoe collected his own brace in the space of three minutes.
The Hull FC strike-weapon’s first effort was one for the highlight reel, juggling a Rangi Chase crossfield kick before planting it in the corner.
In the game of one-upmanship however, it was Hall who came out on top with arguably the try of the tournament to date.
It started with a bullocking Kallum Watkins break, an offload to Ben Westwood, a shift to Kevin Sinfield who then hit his knees, slid, and deftly passed to Brett Ferres.
Ferres then basketball passed to Cudjoe , who himself spiralled the ball wide to Hall.
Hall had plenty to do in getting the ball down, but his power was too much for the tired defence and he ploughed over 70m from where the movement started.
After a follow-up try to Ferres in the very next minute, England were kept out for the remainder of the half.
Referee Alibert came up with some strange options in this period, electing not to reduce the Irish to 12 men for a clear professional foul, knocking down the ball close to the line when returning from an offside position.
Sam Tomkins threw a great pass to put Hall into space out wide, but it was incorrectly deemed forward, while at the other end Ireland were able to force a drop-out when many chasers were seemingly offside.
The rain came in the second half and tries were fewer and farther between, with a Watkins effort in the 56th minute and an additional to Chase in the 69th the only changes.
Indeed the crowd began entertaining itself with a Mexican wave just seven minutes into the second stanza, an exercise in distraction and warmth-creation.
England coach Steve McNamara went as far as resting pivotal man Sinfield with 13 minutes left on the clock.
While Ireland looks destined to exit the World Cup before the knockout stages, England has all but secured its place in the next round with the large victory.
The only worry for the English may be an incident in the first half when Irish centre Stuart Littler complained numerous times of an English player kicking a teammate on the ground.
However the stadium did not screen replays of the incident and the penalty was given to the English – not the Irish – when a scuffle ensued.
ENGLAND 42 (Ryan Hall 3, Tom Briscoe 2, Brett Ferres, Kallum Watkins, Rangi Chase tries; Kevin Sinfield 4, Gareth Widdop goals) beat IRELAND 0 at John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield. Referee: Thierry Alibert. Crowd: 24,375. Official Player of the Match: Ryan Hall.