Shaun Wane’s tenure as England boss begins in disappointment with a 26-24 defeat by the Combined All Stars.
|England (12) 24|
|Tries: Farrell 2, Knowles, Davies Goals: Ratchford 4|
|Combined All Stars (14) 26|
|Tries: Sio 2, Mata’utia, McGillvary Goals: Sezer 3 Pens: Sezer 2|
Appointed in February 2020, Wane finally took charge for the first time after replacing Wayne Bennett.
But Ken Sio and Peter Mata’utia crossed for the All Stars – in between Liam Farrell’s double – for a 14-12 lead.
Jermaine McGillvary and Sio’s second extended the lead and, although debutants Morgan Knowles and Tom Davies responded, it was not enough.
Three-time Super League winner Wane was supposed to oversee an Ashes Test series against Australia last autumn, but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It meant he has had to wait 16 months to lead out England, as the national team competed in an international fixture for the first time since 2018, but a thrilling contest ended in defeat.
The preparations for Wane’s maiden fixture have been less than ideal, with players missing due to Super League games taking place this weekend, playing in the NRL, as well as outbreaks of Covid-19 at several clubs.
Skipper Sam Tomkins showed few signs of fatigue with a solid showing after a marathon 16-hour drive from the south of France to avoid quarantine, while Catalans Dragons team-mate Davies, who arrived in a separate car, scored on his debut.
Wigan forward Farrell impressed with two tries, including a superb solo run, but it was two Huddersfield men who made the difference for the All Stars in front of 4,000 spectators in Warrington.
Winger McGillvary, who featured for England in the 2017 World Cup final loss against Australia, managed to burrow over in the corner to remain under consideration for this year’s tournament and Huddersfield’s Aidan Sezer’s 10 points with the boot proved crucial.
England’s final warm-up match is against Fiji at Rochdale on 15 October and the hosts begin their World Cup campaign against Samoa in Newcastle a week later.
However, a decision on whether the World Cup will still take place in England this year or be postponed until 2022 will be made next week.
England boss Wane said on Sky Sports: “Loads of positives. We played tough and had energy, but didn’t have that killer instinct in the last third.
“Lots of things we practiced, we did. Played a bit dumb at times, could have had more movements, but overall ecstatic about our efforts.
“They’re a good team, my players are brave and tough, no question about that, we just need to be a bit smarter with the ball.”
‘Decision-making costs England’
Former England international Jon Wilkin on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
“England got their decision-making wrong and that cost them two tries. It was fiercely contested and the All Stars had some strong ball carriers.
“England looked small and were unable to match the All Stars physically but that will be very different when their missing players come back into the team.
“But Shaun Wane will be disappointed and will have some real focus points for the team.
“The match fell in and out in terms of quality and execution. The All Stars looked really sharp with the ball but England didn’t really get going, but still it was a fantastic exercise to get a run-out together.”