2021 Rugby League World Cup

England have got the World Cup off to a flyer and smashed Samoa with an emphatic 60-6 win in Newcastle.

Dom Young and Elliot Whitehead bagged two tries each, and Tommy Makinson kicked 10 goals as the hosts easily won the first match of Group A.

In front of fans 43,119 fans at St James’ Park, Samoa failed to fire and it was Shaun Wane’s men who sent a clear message to the rest of the competition with an impressive ten-try win.

Much of the talk before the tournament was about the outstanding squad Toa Samoa had assembled and the stars that could call on. However, it was underrated England who were slick and efficient and not their rusty opponents in the north-east.

In the fourth minute Herbie Farnworth tried to ground a deft Sam Tomkins grubber, but lost control of the ball over the line.

It was a let-off for Samoa, but they were penalised for a hit on Tomkins and Makinson stepped up to give the hosts an early 2-0 lead.

In the 10th minute, a Joseph Suaali’i knock-on handed England excellent field position, but they were unable to take advantage of it.

The home team were playing fast, up-tempo footy and George Williams almost put Chris Hill over for the opening try.

In the next set Tom Burgess barged over the line but failed to ground the ball.

It was all England early and then in the 22nd minute they struck, Williams breaking through and finding Jack Welsby in support to score.

Makinson added the extras to give his team an 8-0 lead.

Three minutes later England were in again, this time Welsby finding Young with a cut-out pass and then the winger rounding Suaali’i to cross for a brilliant try.

Makinson made no mistake to make it 14-0 and Samoa were in trouble.

It got worse in the 30th minute, when Welsby again found Young in space out wide with another cut-out pass and the giant flanker acrobatically dived over.

Makinson sliced his conversion from the sideline, but at 18-0 England were cruising.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow hobbled off the field, giving the Pacific nation another headache.

Then a slice of luck with six minutes left in the half gave Samoa some hope. Izack Tago intercepted a pass and ran 50 metres unopposed to score.

Stephen Crichton nailed the conversion to make it 18-6 and put the visitors back in the contest.

The good fortune energised the Samoans and right on half-time Crichton tried to ground Anthony Milford’s kick, but the video referee ruled it as a knock-on and no try.

At half-time, Samoa had a sniff but England were still in control with their 12-point buffer.

The second half started badly for the visitors when Tyrone May was stretchered off with a bad injury.

And it got worse in the 48th minute when Kallum Watkins touched down, after dummying his way past a few defenders.

Makinson added another two points and at 24-6 victory for England looked assured.

Samoa struggled to hold onto the ball, a series of dropped balls cruelling their chances to hit back.

It became a nightmare with 17 minutes left when Milford was sin-binned for a late shot on Tomkins.

Makinson stepped up and kicked another goal, sealing England’s victory.

The scoring kept coming and two minutes later Farnworth crossed for a try.

Makinson landed another kick, his sixth of the afternoon before Elliot Whithead crossed twice in quick succession to put the icing on a completely one-sided performance.

There was still time for Makinson to cross in the corner for his own try, and for Williams to get on the scoresheet in the final minutes as well.

Then right on full-time, Burgess powered off for another four-pointer.

Samoa were out on their feet, a complete mess in defence, as England celebrated a job well done.

England 60
Tries: J. Welsby (22), D. Young (25), D. Young (30), K. Watkins (49), H. Farnworth (65), E. Whitehead (69), E. Whitehead (71), T. Makinson (74), G. Williams (76), T. Burgess (80). Goals: T. Makinson (6), T. Makinson (24), T. Makinson (27), T. Makinson (50), T. Makinson (63), T. Makinson (67), T. Makinson (70), T. Makinson (72), T. Makinson (75), T. Makinson (80)

Samoa 6
Tries: I. Tago (34). Goals S. Crichton (36)


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John Davidson
John is a freelance journalist who has been writing about rugby league for the past decade. He covered the 2013 and 2017 World Cups, has appeared on TV and radio, and been published in The I-Paper, The Guardian, The Sun, The Mirror, League Express, Inside Sport magazine and Big League. He writes regularly for Forty-20 magazine, League Weekly and co-hosts the podcasts By the Balls and Six To Go.