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England scored 30 points without reply in a one-sided second half to get their Gillette Four Nations campaign off to a successful if unconvincing start with a routine 34-12 victory over a fired-up France.

Teenage scrum-half Richie Myler helped spare England’s blushes with a brace of tries, to add to the hat-trick he scored in their 66-12 win over France in June, but Tony Smith’s men will need a dramatic improvement against Australia next Saturday if they are to avoid a repeat of the 52-4 rout they suffered in their last meeting.

France clearly had plenty to prove after their disastrous World Cup and that 12-try humiliation on home soil but coach Bobbie Goulding never said anything beforehand about winning.

The former Great Britain scrum-half wanted his side to be competitive on their Gillette Four Nations debut and for long periods they looked the better team.

Tries from Vincent Duport and Kane Bentley put them 12-4 up by half-time as they sensed a first win over England for more than 27 years.

It all came good in the end as England ran in five second-half tries to give the 11,529 crowd at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium - the highest for an Anglo-French international since 1952 - something to cheer, although most of them had resorted to a Mexican wave long before centre Jean-Philippe Baile was sent off for a high tackle on Myler.

There was little hint of the drama to come when England stand-off Danny McGuire sent his Leeds Rhinos team-mate Lee Smith over for the game’s first try on 12 minutes.

But the French played with the passion of their coach and Goulding was punching the air when his side drew level thanks to winger Duport’s try midway through the first half, courtesy of some trickery from debutant full-back Clint Greenshields.

Thomas Bosc’s conversion went in off an upright to give the visitors a shock lead and it got worse for England when second rower Julien Touxagas intercepted Scott Moore’s wayward pass to set up the position for hooker Bentley to scoot over from dummy half for a second try.

Bosc’s second goal made it 12-4 and England would have been even further behind at half-time had the stand-off been able to land a 50-metre penalty.

The home side were also grateful for France’s inability to hold onto the ball in the collision but it was always going to be difficult for the French to sustain their challenge.

Myler duly sparked the fightback, jinking his way over for England’s second try three minutes into the second half.

He grabbed his second from Kevin Sinfield’s short pass on 49 minutes to edge his side back in front and the Leeds skipper accepted Jamie Peacock’s off-load to go over for England’s third three minutes later to turn the game on its head.

The visitors were still able to trouble England, with Constant Villegas and Dimitri Pelo both going close to punishing handling errors.

But all French resistance crumbled when left winger Ryan Hall snapped up Bosc’s pass near his own line and raced unopposed for his 34th try of the season.

Right winger Tom Briscoe, who was only called into the squad this week, also got in on the scoring act three minutes from the end when he collected substitute Kyle Eastmond’s grubber kick for his third try in two appearances.

With the game gone, France’s discipline went with it. Prop David Ferriol was placed on report for an ugly challenge on Sinfield.

And referee Leon Williamson meted out instant punishment to vice-captain Baile just before the end when his swinging arm flattened Myler.
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