Knights winger Dom Young scored two spectacular first half tries as England got their World Cup campaign off to the best possible start with a 60-6 win against an injury hit Samoa side at St James Park.
Young combined superbly with fellow England rookie Jack Welsby to score in the 24th and 29th minutes as the host nation made a statement about their World Cup ambitions in the opening match of the tournament.
Selected on the right wing ahead of England’s greatest ever tryscorer Ryan Hall after an impressive Test debut against Fiji in last weekend’s World Cup warm-up match, Young had the 43,119 crowd on their feet every time he touched the ball.
Roosters lock Victor Radley was named man-of-the-match as England’s six NRL players all had an impact.
Raiders second-rower Elliott Whitehead scored two second half tries, while Broncos centre Herbie Farnworth crossed for his first England try as Shaun Wane’s men dominated a disappointing Samoa outfit.
Sharks prop Braden Hamlin-Uele was assisted from the field in the 11th minute with a lower leg injury and there were initial fears he may have suffered a fracture.
Former Panthers playmaker Tyrone May suffered a dislocated hip and was taken to hospital, while Cowboys flier Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is also expected to be out of the tournament due to a syndesmosis injury.
England led 18-6 at half-time and laid on seven second half tries, including six in the final 16 minutes.
Samoa halfback Anthony Milford was sin-binned midway through the second half for a late tackle on England captain Sam Tomkins as discipline and poor ball control proved costly for the Pacific nation.
England scored four tries while Samoa were down to 12 men and another two after Milford’s return.
For England, Welsby was sensational and scored the opening try after former Raiders halfback George Williams burst through Martin Taupau and Junior Paulo before sending the St Helens five-eighth racing away.
Panthers centre Izack Tago scored Samoa’s only try when he intercepted a Welsby pass and raced 60 metres to score.
Play of the game
Dom Young bought the crowd to their feet as he raced down the touchline, stepped inside wing opposite Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, swerved around Joseph Suaalii and stepped out of an attempted tackle of Izack Tago to score England’s second try.
What They Said
“I know nobody gave us a chance to win the game but within our group the tight team spirit we have and how we’ve trained, we knew what we could do. We enjoyed all that negativity to be honest. Whatever people want to say about us that’s up to them. I’m not on social media so I don’t hear lots of things but I knew it was quite negative about us.” – England coach Shaun Wane
“It wasn’t the result we wanted. England played very well and we had a few injuries and setbacks. They got a lot of momentum. Tyrone May disclocated his hip and has gone to hospital here in Newcastle. There’s a few injuries in there that might not take part of rest of the tournament. We’re not looking for excuses or anything like that, we didn’t have much luck injury wise. We rolled in here this morning with a good team and we’ve still got a good team.” – Samoa coach Matt Parish
The win all but guarantees England will finish top of Pool A as they play France at Bolton on October 22 and Greece in Sheffield a week later.
Samoa are now on a collision course for a quarter-final showdown with Tonga, assuming they finish second in Pool A and their Pacific rivals top Pool D.
Matt Parish’s team now meet Greece on October 23 in Doncaster and France in Warrington on October 30.