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Bennett's England too classy for Samoa

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/05/2017 Steve Zemek

England have outclassed Samoa 30-10 at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday, shrugging off criticism of their Australian-born contingent and coach Wayne Bennett.

Prop and Canterbury skipper James Graham was superb in the five-tries-to-two win, running for a game-high 168 metres and scoring the match-sealing try.

The Samoans were given a sniff when Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford came up with a piece of individual brilliance to jink through the line and make it 20-10 with 13 minutes on the clock.

However, Graham barged over in the 74th minute to ensure the victory before Jermaine McGillvary put the cherry on top.

Bennett was buffeted by critics in England during the week for his selection of Australian-born and bred players Chris Heighington and Chris McQueen.

Former Great Britain great Garry Schofield called for Bennett to be sacked after English-based players Mark Percival, Scott Taylor and Alex Walmsley travelled halfway around the world to be left on the bench.

"I don't worry about my critics, I would have left the game a long time ago if I did," Bennett quipped in typical fashion.

But England looked a far improved outfit to the one that turned out in last year's Four Nations with Bennett managing to pull them together despite having just two training sessions during the week.

England proved too disciplined and too well drilled, with halves Luke Gale and Kevin Brown outstanding. Hooker Josh Hodgson controlled the tempo while Elliott Whitehead was damaging with every run of his 80-minute stint.

"It was an add on of where we finished the Four Nations," Bennett said.

"I was really pleased with that, the way they came together.

"We didn't get the players in until Monday night, that was a big effort by them, getting people in from the UK.

"We didn't have a lot of time to do anything."

While the English looked slick, the the Samoans struggled to apply pressure on the back of poor decisions, particularly with their kicking and fifth-tackle options.

The Samoans were forced to play Brisbane lock Josh McGuire at dummy half after Kaysa Pritchard was ruled out with injury.

They looked outclassed in the first half, going to the break down 14-0, however, a try to Joey Leilua four minutes after the resumption brought his side in to the match and the 18,271-strong crowd to its feet.

Just as Samoa looked like they were starting to win the arm wrestle, Gale cut through and sent Hodgson over to make it 20-6.

The Samoans surged again when Milford crossed but in the wash up they have plenty to do just six months out from the World Cup.

"Our game management wasn't what it should have been," Samoa coach Matt Parish said.

"But I thought the effort was there.

"We didn't start real well, we dropped the ball on the third tackle and they scored off the back of that and we didn't finish that half real well.

"At 20-10 we should have got ourselves back in to it a little bit; we couldn't mount any sort of pressure."

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