England flexed their muscles for the World Cup with a 50-0 rout of Fiji in Salford.
There were nine different tryscorers as Shaun Wane’s men comfortably avoided a repeat of the shock 15-14 defeat to Italy at the AJ Bell Stadium in the build-up to the last World Cup on home soil in 2013.
Wane knows it will be a different story when his side go up against the might of Samoa in Newcastle next Saturday but, on a wet night in Salford, there was much for him to be pleased about, not least the performance of blockbusting winger Dom Young.
The 22-year-old former Huddersfield player scored one try and laid on two more before half-time to press his case for inclusion in the tournament opener at St James’ Park.
Fiji, who had former Featherstone bosses James Webster and Brian McDermott in their coaching box, were semi-finalists in each of the last three tournaments but will need a drastic improvement if they are to trouble Australia in their opening game next Saturday.
They rarely looked capable of breaching England’s watertight defence and their misery was compounded by injuries to Brandon Wakeham, Joseph Ratuvakacereivalu and Kylen Miller.
Wane used 18 members of his 24-strong World Cup squad, including his six-strong NRL contingent, and supplemented it with four fringe players to give the non-Grand Finalists precious match practice.
The early signs were good for England, with uncapped hooker Andy Ackers coming up with a strong burst and full-back Jack Welsby causing all sorts of problems with his deft kicking.
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) October 7, 2022
Handling errors in the slippery conditions from Ryan Hall and Herbie Farnworth gave the Fijiians a sight of their opponents’ line but England’s defence was strong and, once they found their groove, it was one-way traffic.
Young was denied early on but there was no stopping the Newcastle Knights flier on 14 minutes as he accepted Welsby’s pass to open the scoring in the corner.
Marc Sneyd missed the conversion but his accuracy quickly returned as England began to run in the tries.
Ackers profited from a superb offload by prop Luke Thompson to cap his impressive start with a try and Young delivered the final passes to get Kallum Watkins and George Williams over before second rower Elliott Whitehead gathered Sneyd’s chip over the Fiji defence for his side’s fifth try before the break, when England led 28-0.
With one eye on next week, Wane withdrew the influential Welsby at half-time, with Liam Marshall getting a run at full-back, but there was no change to the pattern of the game.
Thompson touched down a Sneyd grubber kick to increase England’s advantage five minutes into the second half and Mike McMeeken and Mike Cooper took advantage of some lightweight defence to crash over for further tries.
England lost cohesion as Wane began to empty the rest of his bench and the only other try came from record tryscorer Ryan Hall, who took Marshall’s pass to cross at the corner seven minutes from the end.