England made a nonsense of the underdogs tag as they brushed off the challenge of star-studded Samoa to make a winning start to their World Cup campaign.
Former Huddersfield winger Dom Young justified his selection ahead of England’s all-time record try-scorer Ryan Hall by scoring twice in the first half on a fairytale debut as Shaun Wane’s men romped to a 60-6 victory in front of a 43,119 crowd at St James’ Park.
England made a fast start, racing into an 18-0 lead inside half an hour from which they never looked back.
Winger Tommy Makinson led the spree with a personal haul of 24 points, scoring one of England’s 10 tries and adding 10 goals from 12 attempts.
So much was expected of Samoa, who were hoping to gain a first win over a tier-one nation.
The defection of Penrith’s Grand Final-winning duo Jarome Luai and Brian To’o from Australia helped make Matt Parish’s men pre-match favourites but, without a warm-up match, they were under-prepared and lacked the necessary cohesion.
Anticipating a tough battle up front, England coach Shaun Wane included four forwards on the bench and the tactic paid off handsomely.
Wane handed competitive debuts to Young, Herbie Farnworth and Victor Radley and all impressed in a thoroughly impressive overall display.
It was almost a perfect first 40 minutes from England as half-backs Jack Welsby, once more belying his youth, and George Williams hit the ground running.
Props Chris Hill and Tom Burgess laid a good platform and both went close to scoring while Farnworth had a try disallowed after winning the race to Williams’ kick to the line.
Makinson opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty and Burgess had a try disallowed before skipper Sam Tomkins put Williams through a gap and Welsby was in support to touch down on 18 minutes.
Welsby then provided cut-out passes for Young to go over twice in five minutes, the Newcastle Knights flier demonstrating the exceptional finishing he displayed in the warm-up game against Fiji.
Two Makinson conversions took the score to 18-0 but Samoa began to show their threat.
Centre Izack Tago picked off Welsby’s pass to sprint 60 metres for an opportunist try, which was converted by Stephen Crichton, who also went close to a try himself on the stroke of half-time.
But the fightback was snuffed out eight minutes into the second half when centre Kallum Watkins took Mike McMeeken’s pass to go in for England’s fourth try, to which Makinson added his fourth goal.
Samoa scrum-half Anthony Milford was sin-binned for a late tackle on Tomkins and Makinson’s second penalty put England a clear four scores in front.
👏 Thanks to everyone who travelled to Newcastle this afternoon to support #EnglandRL!
👋 See you in Bolton next Saturday… 🏴 pic.twitter.com/6t4Q6p8sCg
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) October 15, 2022
Farnworth took advantage of the extra man to score England’s fifth try two minutes later and Makinson kicked his sixth goal.
England were on a roll by then and Elliott Whitehead went over twice in three minutes before Makinson touched down Williams’ kick to the corner and Burgess bundled his way over a minute from the end to wrap up the scoring.