France roll over England in test
Author : England RL
Match Report: England 24-49 France
England captain Tom Halliwell praised an impressive performance by France in the first of two Wheelchair Rugby League Internationals in Kent this week – but backed his team to bounce straight back when the teams meet again at the same venue on Saturday.
Halliwell’s team, who had romped to a comfortable victory against Wales in their only previous international since 2019, were stunned by the pace, power and skill of the 2017 World Cup champions, for whom the brothers Gilles and Nicolas Clausells were outstanding.
But the Leeds Rhinos forward saw enough in the way England surged back in a thrilling second half period to draw confidence ahead of the weekend rematch.
“That was a tough match, as you’d expect against the world champions,” said Halliwell.
“It was definitely a level up from anything we’ve played since Covid, and that’s exactly what we wanted.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favours with some of the mistakes we made and penalties we gave away – and that’s what we need to improve for Saturday.
“But we played some decent stuff as well and hopefully it was a decent game for the people watching in Medway and on the BBC.
“Every time we play it seems to be a bigger occasion, and it’s a great thing to be part of.”
After a spectacular pre-match light show to greet the entry of the teams, there were no points for 17 minutes with some brutal defence.
France broke the deadlock with a penalty from Nicolas Clausells, and he also played a key part in a try for his brother five minutes later, then converted it to extend the lead to 8-0.
England hit back with a superb try for the Halifax Panthers youngster Rob Hawkins, converted by Joe Coyd from the local Argonauts club.
But France seized control in the late stages of the first half with Gilles Clausells scoring his second try and Jeremy Bourson adding another, to extend their lead to 22-6.
Halliwell set up a try for his Leeds team-mate James Simpson to give England fresh hope early in the second half, but France stretched away again with superb tries from Julien Panella and Lionel Alazard.
England hinted at an improbable fightback as Halliwell laid on a try for the lively Nathan Collins and then went over himself, with Collins converting both to reduce the arrears to 36-24.
But the French secured their victory when Dany Denuwelaere scored the try his formidable performance deserved, and applied further gloss with a second try for Bourson who completed the scoring with a drop goal.
England Wheelchair Rugby League squad announced for French test
England Wheelchair Rugby League Head Coach Tom Coyd has named his matchday squad to face France tomorrow evening (Wednesday 10 November) at Gillingham’s Medway Park Sports Centre.
And Coyd includes two players – Adam Rigby and Declan Roberts – from the newly-formed Wigan Warriors team, alongside established players such as Nathan Collins, Tom Halliwell and James Simpson from the all-conquering Leeds Rhinos.
Tomorrow’s match is the first in a two-test series against the reigning world champions and will be shown live via the BBC’s Red Button from 6.30pm.
The Red Button coverage repeats the BBC’s coverage of England’s successful international against Wales earlier this year, while the cross-Channel series against the French sees both countries building towards next Autumn’s rescheduled Rugby League World Cup (RLWC2021).
England Wheelchair RL Head Coach, Tom Coyd, says: “This will probably be the most competitive series we will have experienced since we played in France back in 2019.
We have been working so hard throughout the pandemic and through to the end of last season, so it’s a fantastic chance to see for real whether what we have been working on has been worthwhile.
I also think it’s a great opportunity to put this squad under some pressure, which will be a great learning experience as we build towards the World Cup.”
Sebastien Bechara (Catalans Dragons/Halifax Panthers), Nathan Collins (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Coyd (Argonauts), Tom Halliwell (Leeds Rhinos, Captain), Rob Hawkins (Halifax Panthers), Lewis King (Argonauts), Adam Rigby, Declan Roberts (both Wigan Warriors), James Simpson (Leeds Rhinos)
Lionel Alazard (Montauban), Jérémy Bourson, Gilles Clausells, Nicolas Clausells (all Dragons), Dany Denuwelaere (Montauban), Thomas Duhalde (Euskadi), Guillaume Mautz (Avignon), Julien Penella (Euskadi), Arno Vargas (Dragons), Adrien Zittel (Arbent)
Players from both squads – military veterans James Simpson and Gilles Clausells – will pay their respects to the fallen on Remembrance Day, 11 November, 11am, at Chatham Naval War Memorial in Kent, where they will lay wreaths on behalf of the respective teams.
The second England versus France match takes place at the same Medway Park venue on Saturday 13 November, 4pm. Before then, those England squad members who have missed out on selection for tomorrow’s match – Nathan Mulhall, Freya Levy, Martin Norris and Fred Nye – will line up for England Knights against the France Espoirs at Medway on Friday.
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