The 2013 Rugby League World Cup is just days away but there have already been a few surprises with England and France stunned in their warm-up matches by relative minnows Italy and the United States.
England's shock 15-14 loss to the Italians was the story of the weekend, with the World Cup co-hosts eventually succumbing thanks to a field-goal from Newcastle Knights speedster Josh Mantellato. Star fullback Sam Tomkins got into the swing of things with a couple of tries for England, while Anthony Laffranchi was amongst the try-scorers for Italy.
Read the full match report here.
There were no such dramas for defending World Cup champions New Zealand, who thumped the Cook Islands 50-0 despite a performance described as "a bit rusty" by coach Stephen Kearney.
Issac Luke took man-of-the-match honours for the Kiwis while Jason Nightingale and Bryson Goodwin both scored doubles, with Shaun Johnson and late inclusion Kieran Foran combining well in the halves. The full match wrap is here.
There were also bright signs for World Cup underdogs the USA, who stunned world No.4 France 22-18 despite being without their NRL stars Clint Newton, Eddy Pettybourne and Joel Luani.
Parramatta's Joseph Paulo led the Tomahawks side and played a key part in the win, which was all the more impressive considering the match was played on France's home turf. Read the story here.
In other warm-up matches, Papua New Guinea got the better of Scotland 38-20, Fiji romped to a 78-0 win in their friendly clash with Rochdale, and the England Knights beat Samoa 52-16 in the curtain-raiser to England's shock loss to Italy.