England 84 France 4

England coach Steve McNamara
England coach Steve McNamara
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JOHN Bateman marked his Test debut with two tries as England put under-strength France to the sword at Leigh Sports Village.

Wigan team-mates George Williams, Liam Farell and Joe Burgess also touched down in a one-sided contest ahead of a three Test series against New Zealand, which starts next week.

England were 32-4 up at half-time and piled on the points after the break to eclipse their previous record score against France, of 73-6 in 1996.

At one stage in the second-half, England scoring tries on six successive sets.

While New Zealand received an intense warm-up against Leeds the previous night - in front of 20,000 at Headingley - there was a huge gulf in class at LSV.

Dual-code international Sam Burgess was among the modest crowd of 8,380 at LSV.

As expected Wigan trio Williams, Burgess and Bateman won their first caps in a strong side featuring their club team-mates Farrell and Sean O’Loughlin.

Full-back Sam Tomkins missed out through injury, but the rest of the big guns were out and coach Steve McNamara was pleased with their emphatic display.

“It can be a tricky situation when the scoreboard gets the way it did, but I thought it was a very thorough and professional performance,” McNamara said.

“I liked the connections and combinations and it was nlce to see the players pretty much in sync with each other. The ideal situation would have been a tougher game, but we learned some things from that game it was good to come through injury free.”

McNamara got the chance to see his new half-back pairing of Gareth Widdop and Williams hit it off, while Bateman, chosen as a left-centre despite playing second row and right centre for Wigan, produced a two-try, man-of-the-match display on his England debut.

“For me, he’s a left-sided player, it was his favourite side as young kid,” said McNamara, who coached Bateman during his formative years at Bradford. “He’s been doing a great job for Wigan on the right, but it’s good that he can play different positions.”

McNamara is hoping to have full-back Tomkins back from injury for the first Test against the Kiwis in Hull on Sunday week and said he would not hesitate to make changes if necessary.

“Selection is tough, “ he said. “We’ve seven players in the dressing room who didn’t play who are very good players.

“I want to sit and watch game again, but, if I feel we can improve our team by making changes, I will do that.”

Second rower Brett Ferres scored a second-half hat-trick of tries. The depleted visitors, who were without around a dozen regulars, trailed 18-0 after eight minutes and, although winger Olivier Arnaud - one of three debutants - hit back with a try, they were out of the game by half-time when they trailed 32-4.

“It was a mis-match,” Agar said. “It was probably no good for both sides.

“If we’d have had a crystal ball to see the strength of our team coming into this game, it probably wouldn’t have been wise to put the fixture together. We had six or seven players out there who aren’t full-time.

“I thought England looked slick and sharp, but it’s hard to tell how good they were against the opposition they were up against. There was such a disparity between the teams.”