2017 Rugby League World Cup - England vs France Match Preview

The Lowdown

ENGLAND

  • England put themselves into pole position for a quarter-final spot behind Group A leaders Australia with a fairly comfortable victory over Lebanon but they were again far from convincing with their performance.
  • Wayne Bennett has chosen to give game time to all of his squad members who have yet to appear at this World Cup with Mark Percival, Kevin Brown, Mike McMeeken and Scott Taylor all coming into the side. Although he has been named on the wing, Jermaine McGillvary can play after being found not guilty of a biting charge.
  • England have now scored a minimum of 29 points in four of their last six World Cup outings and will be hoping to improve that record here as they try and build some momentum ahead of a likely quarter-final next week.

Head Coach: Wayne Bennett

Team: Widdop; Ratchford, Percival, Bateman, McGillvary; Brown, Gale; Hill, Roby, Graham, Currie, McMeeken, O'Loughlin

Bench: Walmsley, T. Burgess, Taylor, Williams

FRANCE

  • France couldn't handle the superior class of World Cup hosts Australia as they were comprehensively beaten 52-6. Their consolation score came from fullback Mark Kheirallah who scored a contender for try of the tournament.
  • AurĂ©lien Cologni has made his mark by sending hooker Eloi Pelissier home early for breaching a team curfew. Mickael Rouch and Olivier Arnaud also drop out of the side that faced Australia last week with Damien Cardace, Lucas Albert and Antoni Maria returning to the fold.
  • France have scored just six points in three of their last four World Cup games which doesn't bode well as they head into a game that they need to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Head Coach: Aurélien Cologni

Team: Kheirallah; Yaha, Ader, Cardace, Bergal; Fages, Albert; Maria, Boudebza, Bousquet, Garcia, Jullien, Baitieri

Bench: Navarrete, Margalet, Herold, Marginet

Analysis - what to expect
England head into this game poised for a quarter-final berth but know that any slip up against France could result in them being embarrassingly eliminated from the tournament at the first hurdle. England currently sit in second place in Group A but need a win here to secure their quarter-final berth. France need a win to give themselves a chance although an unlikely 31 point or more win would see the French leapfrog England. Wayne Bennett's men have faced plenty of criticism for how they have performed so far but should seal their quarter-final berth here and knock France out of the tournament in the process.