Rugby League World Cup Trophy

Greece have made their World Cup debut but went down 34-12 to France in an entertaining five-try defeat at Doncaster.

The Greeks were brave and committed but ultimately outmatched by a well-drilled and fully professional French side at the Eco Stadium.

Les Chanticleers built a 20-0 first half lead and then added another two tries after the interval to get their tournament off to a positive start.

Benjamin Jullien bagged a brace while the impressive Arthur Mourgue grabbed a try and kicked a perfect seven from seven with the tee to finish with a personal haul of 18 points.

France went ahead early in the 8th minute when prop Jordan Dezaria broke through two tackles to score.

Arthur Mourgue added the extras to make it 6-0.

Fifteen minutes later Mourge landed another goal, this time from a penalty, to extend the lead to 8-0.

Greece threatened at times but often their last pass or handling went astray.

Catalans star Mourgue then dinked in a beautiful grubber in the 29th minute that caused havoc in the Titans’ defence.

They were unable to clean up the ball and Tony Gigot pounced for his team’s second try.

Mourgue made no mistake to take the score to 14-0.

Four minutes later the French were in again when a tidy short ball from Alrix De Costa sent Jullien crashing over.

Mourgue kept up his perfect kicking to make it a 20-0 lead at the break.

In the second half Greece started with more intent and a series of penalties in their favour.

But they couldn’t convert their field position and in the 46th minute France scored again, this time a series of offloads ending with Mourgue crossing between the posts.

The halfback converted his own try for a 26-0 scoreline.

Samisoni Langi went close with a four-pointer of his own seven minutes later, but knocked the ball on over the line.

However, Greece finally managed a response in the 56th minute through Siteni Taukamo.

Jordan Meads launched a great grubber kick in behind and Taukamo gleefully picked it up to notch the Titans’ first-ever World Cup points.

Lachan Illias nailed the conversion to put the Greeks back into the match.

With confidence surging through them, they forced a number of drop-outs and put France on the backfoot.

But a second try never came and the French landed another penalty goal through Mourgue with 13 minutes left to ease the pressure.

Jullien wrapped up the win with his second try of the night, and Mourgue added the extras, in the 74th minute.

Then in the final minute a brilliant Billy Magoulis kick was picked up by Nick Mougios, who ran 55 metres and stepped two defenders to score a fantastic try right at the death.

France next face England in Bolton, while Greece meet Samoa.

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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.