Rugby League World Cup: England Knights thrash Samoa 52-16 at the Salford City Stadium
Last Updated: 21/10/13 8:41am
Substitute Jack Hughes scored a second-half hat-trick of tries as England Knights steamrollered Samoa 52-16 in a friendly at the Salford City Stadium.
The Knights ran in nine tries to three against the Pacific Islanders, who will need to find a marked improvement if they are to make an impression when they open their World Cup campaign against holders New Zealand next weekend.
Hughes took the scoring honours but the man-of-the-match award went to Zak Hardaker, who was omitted from the England squad to face Italy but revived his hopes of appearing in the forthcoming campaign with a superb attacking display.
Hardaker began the match at centre but switched to full-back following the loss of Tommy Makinson on 24 minutes and wreaked havoc on the Samoans with his incisive running in addition to kicking eight goals from nine attempts.
South Sydney prop Tom Burgess also caught the eye with a series of storming runs and clever offloads after he, like Hardaker, was dropped from the England side which will play the Italians.
The Samoans actually looked the more potent attacking side in the opening moments and took the lead through strong-running centre Joey Leilua after only five minutes.
But the Knights took a firm grip on the game thanks largely to the efforts of lively Wigan prop Scott Taylor. His midfield burst set up the position for Ben Cockayne to send scrum-half Sam Powell over before he then romped through the visitors' defence for a solo score.
Hardaker added both conversions to make it 12-4 and Samoa's hopes sunk further when new captain Harrison Hansen limped off on 17 minutes.
Hardaker produced a classic break to create a try for Cockayne before switching to full-back and wreaking even more damage on the fragile Samoan defence.
Exciting full-back Anthony Milford sliced through for a solo try, which he also converted, to briefly stem the tide, but the Knights increased their lead when replacement Michael Lawrence scored from a fortuitous rebound with his first touch of the ball.
Both sides were temporarily reduced to 12 men with the sin-binning of Brad Singleton and Tim Lafai following a punch-up involving most players on the pitch but the English youngsters maintained their composure to run away with the game in the second half.
Wigan centre Hughes burst through for two tries in the third quarter while second rower Brett Ferres charged over for one. Powell then touched down his own grubber kick to claim his second try of the match.
Hughes profited from an offload by Singleton to complete his hat-trick on 72 minutes but Samoa had the final say when centre Junior Sau, who will be playing at Salford in 2014, scored a consolation try and Pita Godinet added the goal.