England Women 36 France Women 10: Leeds Rhinos players impress in World Cup warm-up
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England didn’t have it all their own way in a scrappy contest and France’s tough-tackling centre Laureanne Biville was named player of the match.
But, despite a series of handling errors, the hosts controlled most of the game and ran in seven tries, four of which were converted by York City Knights’ former Castleford Tigers full-back Tara Stanley.
Rhinos’ Australian-born captain Courtney Winfield-Hill was involved in three of the tries on her England debut and survived an injury scare, getting up to play on after a long stoppage in the second half.
Keara Bennett also won her first cap, off the bench, but her Leeds teammates Zoe Hornby and Dannielle Anderson did not feature in the 17.
France dominated the opening quarter of an hour, but England broke the deadlock after 18 minutes when Roche’s pass found Hollie Dodd and some neat footwork and acceleration took her over the line.
Winfield-Hill was involved in the next two tries, scored back to back on 27 and 30 minutes.
The Leeds captain picked out Jodie Cunningham and she provided the final ball for Beevers who finished strongly at the corner.
In the next set, Amy Hardcastle ran a nice line on to Winfield-Hill’s pass and the conversion made it 16-0.
England would have scored again in the set from the restart if Stanley had come up with a better pass to the right wing, but Leah Burke knocked on into touch.
It looked like becoming a procession at that stage, but France - who hadn’t got out of their own half since the early pressure - hit back four minutes before the break via Cristina Song Puche who dived over from first receiver after Margot Canal had been dragged down just short at the end of a thrilling sequence of passes.
England’s fourth try came against 12 players, French prop Elodie Pacull having been sin-binned soon after the break for a late challenge on Cunningham.
Winfield-Hill was again involved, linking with Stanley to put Hardcastle over for her second touchdown.
Roche stepped over on 57 minutes, moments after almost creating a try for Burke and Stanley added her third goal to make it 26-4.
France were competitive throughout and pulled a try back early in the final quarter through Fanny Ramos, who darted over from acting-half. Elisa Ciria added the extras.
Roche scored her second touchdown, from a pass by Cunninham, with five minutes left.
The ball tended to stay away from Goldthorp, in the right centre, but she displayed her impressive finishing ability to complete the scoring two minutes from time.