England Win Again

England doused the fire of the passionate Tongans to remain on course for a place in the inaugural Federation Shield with a 40-18 victory.

Paul Cullen’s youngsters followed up their opening win over France with an equally impressive seven-try display in a lively match at the Twickenham Stoop.

England’s young forwards had their hands full coping with the brute force of a physical Tongan side led by Harlequins RL’s Solomon Haumono but they had enough class to see them home.

New Wakefield loose forward Brett Ferres and Leeds centre Ashley Gibson, who scored two tries and demonstrated his versatility with a stint at hooker, underlined their growing reputations with impressive performances.

The task looked a formality as England, with the classy Paul Cooke pulling the strings at stand-off, raced into a 10-0 lead inside 12 minutes.

It was Cooke, picking up from the base of a scrum 20 metres out, who provided the scoring pass for half-back partner Jamie Rooney to touch down for the game’s first try after nine minutes.

He also added the goal and the islanders were in danger of being routed when man of the match Ferres sent Gibson over for his first try.

But powerful forwards Richard Fa’aoso and Taniela Tuiaki, who typified the spirit and never-say-die qualities of the tourists, kept their side in contention with forceful solo tries, both converted by former London Broncos stand-off Feleti Mateo, before half-time.

Gibson added his second try after 29 minutes, courtesy of neat handling from Matt Diskin and David Hodgson, and Rooney kicked his second conversion.

But the tight contest was effectively settled in the third quarter, with England captain Rob Purdham pouncing on a defensive blunder for a deserved try within two minutes of the re-start.

Right winger Mark Calderwood, two-try hero of England’s win over France, raced onto a delicate kick by Ferres for his side’s fifth try but Haumono delighted the Tongan followers among the 2,388 crowd with a barnstorming run that brought him a consolation try.

England had the final say when Huddersfield Giants prop Eorl Crabtree broke through some tired tackling to send Wigan Warriors full-back Chris Ashton over and there was just enough time for Leeds Rhinos centre Lee Smith to add a seventh try, with Rooney taking his goal tally to six.

Tonga could earn a re-match with England in the November 12 final if they win their last group game against France in Castres next Sunday.

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