Widdop shines as England ease past France

England 60 France 6GARETH WIDDOP scored with his first touch in international rugby league as England eased to victory over France in the Gillette Fusion International at Leigh Sports Village.

Wigan's Sam Tomkins led the way with a record-equalling four tries but debutant Widdop also caught the eye, quickly proving there was no concerns about his surprise call-up.

The Halifax-born full-back, who has only played two senior games with Melbourne Storm, finished off Chris Bridge's break after just two minutes and went on to showcase plenty of the talent which prompted new England coach Steve McNamara to name the exciting Yorkshireman in his first game in charge.

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England, who also saw Huddersfield's Kevin Brown and Wigan's Joel Tomkins give solid debuts, had the game sewn up by the break leading 34-6 following Tomkins' quadruple.

Hull winger Tom Briscoe also scored with Andrew Bentley's try the only response for a depleted French side which offered plenty of fight but little penetration and raised question marks once more about the worthiness of the fixture as preparation for the challenge of Australia and New Zealand.

After the break, Castleford's Michael Shenton (2), Gareth Ellis (2) - who like Sam Burgess and Widdop had flown in from Australia - and Bridge all added tries, profitting largely while France were down to 12 men after full-back Constant Villegas had been sin-binned for tripping Bridge.

Leeds Rhinos' Kevin Sinfield kicked six goals with Widdop adding another two in front of a crowd of 7,951.