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Wayne Bennett pleased with England start

Press AssociationPress Association 22/10/2016 Ian Laybourn

Wayne Bennett expressed his satisfaction after making a winning start as England coach.

The veteran Australian handed out five new caps in the absence of his skipper Sam Burgess and five players from the Super League grand final and watched his new-look, somewhat experimental side gain a 40-6 victory over a spirited France in Avignon.

It was just the workout England needed ahead of the Four Nations, although Bennett already had an idea of his team to play New Zealand at Huddersfield next Saturday.

"I thought we handled it pretty well without blowing them away," Bennett said.

"I thought France tried really hard, they were really competitive and had good ball control.

"I was pretty pleased with all the new caps, I wasn't disappointed with anybody tonight.

"But it hasn't made my job of picking a side for next week tougher - I already had an idea of my team to face New Zealand anyway."

Leeds winger Ryan Hall extended his record try haul to 28 in as many appearances with two first-half touchdowns to put England on their way to a 22-6 halftime lead.

While five-eighth Gareth Widdop scored his side's seventh and final try and kicked a sixth goal to bring up a century of points for his country.

The only disappointment for England was the loss of acting captain James Graham, who was the victim of a late and dangerous tackle five minutes from the end and will have to face a concussion test ahead of the Kiwis game.

"He's a bit sick in there but the doctor says he should be OK," Bennett said.

Bennett denied accusations from new France head coach Aurelien Cologni that England had disrespected their hosts by flying in and out of Avignon on the day of the game and believes their performance bodes well for the future.

"There was no suggestion that we were trying to be smart," Bennett said.

"It was never mentioned to me or anybody else on the staff about being here early to promote the game.

"I thought it was great to be here. Watching France today, you've got to be optimistic about what they can do going forward if they can just hold it together and try to build from here.

"They kept turning up, we just had better players, that's a fact of life."

Cologni, who has replaced Englishman Richard Agar, was encouraged by his team's efforts, which was in sharp contrast to their 84-4 rout in Leigh 12 months earlier, and believes the final score flattered England.

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