Wheelchair Rugby League internationalEngland: (12) 34Tries: Hawkins, Coyd, King 2, Collins, Halliwell Goals: Coyd, Collins 4France: (30) 43Tries: Bourson 3, Alazard, Dore, Verdi Goals: Alazard 8, Verdi Drop: Guttadoro
England fell to a disappointing 43-34 defeat against France in their Wheelchair Rugby League re-match in Leeds.
Jeremy Bourson scored a hat-trick for the visitors as they gained revenge for last year’s defeat by England in the World Cup final.
England lacked composure and direction and struggled defensively, particularly in the opening half.
They closed the gap in the second half but France controlled the game.
Sunday’s game is the first of a two-match series between the sides with the second game in Marseille on Saturday, 25 November.
“We will use it as motivation and a lesson learned,” England captain Tom Halliwell told BBC Sport.
“I am gutted. Every time you pull on the England jersey, you want to do well.
“We can be proud of our second half, but we gave ourselves too much to do with some uncharacteristic errors.
“Full credit to the French, they are a great outfit and it took everything to beat them in the World Cup final but we will go back and be ready to go in Marseille.”
The sides, the top two in the world, have dominated the sport for many years with France winning the 2013 and 2017 World Cups before England’s 28-24 win in Manchester last year.
England started confidently and took an early lead through a Rob Hawkins try, converted by Joe Coyd but they then lost their way and looked sloppy in defence.
The new-look French side, now without two of their key players in Gilles Clausells and his nephew Nico Clausells, scored 30 unanswered first-half points to silence the crowd of more than 2,300 at the First Direct Arena.
Bourson crossed twice while Damien Dore and Lionel Alazard also scored tries with Alazard adding seven goals to put them well in control.
England needed a reaction and Coyd got a crucial score just before the break and the influential Jack Brown came on for the second half as they looked to get back into the match.
Lewis King went over in the corner for the first of his tries and a Nathan Collins conversion cut the lead before Yann Verdi gave the French some breathing space and Bourson completed his hat-trick on the hour to maintain their dominance
Halliwell and King crossed with Collins converting both to make it a nine-point game but the French defence held firm and they showed better game management to emerge victorious.
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