Exiles cruise to England victory

England's Gareth Carvell is held by the Exiles defence.
England's Gareth Carvell is held by the Exiles defence.
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JON Wilkin was left disappointed after his first game as England captain ended in a comprehensive 32-20 defeat against the Exiles at Huddersfield’s Galpharm Stadium.

The Exiles, who retained the international origin trophy, were dominant in all areas of the game, with the biggest threats coming from the oldest players on the field - 34-year-old Brett Hodgson and 38-year-old Steve Menzies.

Skipper Hodgson scored two of his side’s six tries and kicked four goals for a personal haul of 16 points while winger Francis Meli also touched down twice.

Steve McNamara’s decision to rest four regulars, with three others unavailable, including the newly-retired Jamie Peacock, gave the England side an experimental look and few seized their big chance to impress.

The new half-back pairing of Danny Brough and Matty Smith did little to enhance their prospects after being outshone by the Exiles duo of Scott Dureau and Daniel Holdsworth.

At least Hull winger Tom Briscoe justified his recall with an industrious display while Huddersfield’s Eorl Crabtree and Leroy Cudjoe caught the eye on their home ground.

The Exiles, also with nine survivors from the opening game, were quickly into their stride and opened the scoring in the fourth minute through Hodgson.

Right winger Joel Monaghan broke down the flank and the evergreen Menzies found his Catalan team-mate Dureau, who held onto the ball long enough for Hodgson to time his run to perfection.

England did not look like scoring until centre Ryan Atkins accelerated away from dummy half 20 metres from his own line and held off all pursuers on a glorious sprint to the other end.

Brough’s conversion levelled the scores but there was no surprise when the Exiles went back in front on 29 minutes following another breathtaking move.

Menzies made the break after taking Holdsworth’s inside pass and the supporting Lincoln Withers sent Dureau over for the Antipodeans’ second try.

England showed more cohesion to score their second try, Brough dragging the Exiles defence out of position for Cudjoe to create the opening for Josh Charnley to cross at the corner.

But the Exiles’ response was swift and decisive, with Monaghan charging over in the other corner after taking Hodgson’s cut-out pass to give them a 16-10 half-time lead.

Hodgson’s vision exposed England’s deficiencies out wide early in the second half too as left winger Meli took his cut-out pass to touch down despite a valiant tackle from Charnley.

Hodgson then dummied his way over for his second try and his third goal extended his side’s lead to 26-10.

Brough’s long pass sent Briscoe over on 57 minutes but Meli grabbed his second try following a break by Holdsworth before England centre Carl Ablett sent Cudjoe over for a consolation try.