Rugby League World Cup 2021: England thrashes Samoa to begin World Cup campaign in style

Dom Young and Elliott Whitehead each scored two tries as England defeated Samoa at St James' Park. Jack Welsby, Kallum Watkins, George Williams, Tommy Makinson, Herbie Farnworth, and Tom Burgess also scored.

Dom Young and Elliott Whitehead each scored two tries as England defeated Samoa 60-6 in Newcastle to kick off their Rugby League World Cup campaign in style.

The tournament hosts led 18-6 at halftime thanks to Jack Welsby's first-half try, Young's first-half double, and Tommy Makinson's goal-kicking.

Samoa remained in the hunt after the break thanks to Stephen Crichton's converted try following an interception, but Kallum Watkins' try in the 49th minute cemented England's lead.

Samoa would not recover from Anthony Milford's yellow card for a late hit on Sam Tomkins, with Whitehead, Herbie Farnworth, Makinson, George Williams, and Tom Burgess all piling on tries to give the hosts the perfect start to the tournament.

The game's plot

The tournament in Newcastle got off to an unusual start when the PA system went down midway through the pre-match welcome ceremony, and when play did resume, it was a slow-burning affair.

Samoa, a team brimming with NRL talent and Grand Final winners, had gone into the game as slight favorites, but a seventh-minute penalty from winger Makinson put England ahead, with the hosts also having potential tries by Herbie Farnworth and Tom Burgess ruled out by the video referee.

The team, and particularly the interchange options chosen by head coach Shaun Wane, suggested that the head coach expected this to be a battle of the forwards, but it was the backs who showed what they could do for the tournament's first try on 23 minutes.

News from the team

After impressing in the warm-up win over Fiji, exciting newcomer Dom Young was named on the wing for England, along with Victor Radley, Jack Welsby, and Herbie Farnworth. Shaun Wane, the head coach, also chose an interchange bench made up entirely of middle forwards.

Samoa head coach Matt Parish named a starting XIII that included four members of the Penrith Panthers' NRL Grand Final-winning team - Izack Tago, Stephen Crichton, Brian To'o, and Jarome Luai - as well as runners-up Parramatta Eels skipper Junior Paulo. Danny Levi of the Huddersfield Giants and Tyrone May of the Catalans Dragons were two other familiar faces in the 17.

Sam Tomkins kicked things off, and George Williams broke a tackle before passing inside to half-back partner Welsby, who had made an excellent support run and then streaked clear to score under the posts.

England made it back-to-back tries two minutes later, thanks to Newcastle Knights winger Young. The ball was worked out to him on the right, and the 21-year-old burst down the touchline before cutting back inside and outrunning the defense to score.

Young came on again in the 31st minute, this time going airborne to finish for an unconverted try close to the right corner post after Welsby found him with a well-chosen cut-out pass.

Samoa, on the other hand, were not out of it yet, and centre Critchton got them on the board with five minutes left in the first half, intercepting a pass on halfway and sprinting clear to finish for a try that he also converted.

England defeated Samoa 60-6.

Tries: Dom Young (2), Elliott Whitehead (2), Jack Welsby, Kallum Watkins, Herbie Farnworth, and Tommy Makinson for England. George Williams, Tom Burgess; Tommy Makinson scores (10).

Samoa: Stephen Crichton, try; Stephen Crichton, goal.

However, England solidified their position nine minutes into the second half when Williams recovered a loose ball after an offload by Mike Cooper, and it was then worked to the right for centre Watkins to burst through a gap and dot down behind the posts.

Tyrone May's dislocated hip did not help Samoa's cause, but Milford's yellow card for a late hit on Tomkins in the 63rd minute proved pivotal, and after Makinson had kicked his second penalty of the day, centre Farnworth crossed to start a scoring spree by the hosts of six tries in 15 minutes that put the game beyond Samoa.

Forward Whitehead forced his way over from close range, then finished after being sent racing clear by Samoa, with winger Makinson adding a try to his ten goals and converting once more to take the hosts to 50 points. Before the final hooter sounded, Williams and Burgess added some luster to the outcome.

What comes next?

On Saturday, October 22, England will play France in the second round of Group A matches in Bolton. The following day, Samoa will look to rebound against World Cup debutants Greece.