20 Oct 2013

Italians shock English, Tomahawks beat France

9:27 am on 20 October 2013

There have been two shock results in warm-up games ahead of the Rugby League World Cup.

Just a week before the tournament starts, England have been upset 15-14 by minnows Italy in Salford, while the American team has beaten France, the USA Tomahawks winning 22-18 in Toulouse.

Italy, who've yet to play in a World Cup, led 10-4 before two tries from Sam Tomkins gave England, the main tournament hosts, a 14-12 half-time lead.

But a drop-goal from winger Josh Mantellato two minutes from time condemned England to a one-point defeat and left their supporters fearing the worst ahead of next weekend's tournament opener against Australia in Cardiff.

For all they are one of the sport's traditional powers England, or Great Britain as they then were, have not won the World Cup since 1972 with Australia triumphing in the six subsequent editions before the Kangaroos were beaten in the most recent final, by the Kiwis in 2008.

A strong England showing is widely considered to be important if the tournament is not going to be a drawn-out series of matches leading to an inevitable Australia-New Zealand final.

The USA's defeat of the world's fourth-ranked nation at Stade des Minimes came despite France leading 14-10 at half-time. Both sides scored four tries.

The Americans only held their first training session the day before the match and in the week leading up to the clash they spent 39 hours travelling in planes, trains, buses and cabs.

The Tomahawks play their first RLWC match against the Cook Islands in Bristol next Thursday.

The England Knights thrashed Samoa 52-16, also at Salford, running in nine tries to three against the Pacific Islanders.

Samoa open their World Cup campaign against Cup holders New Zealand next weekend.