Despite losing by just six points in a hard-fought affair against Australia in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final, England entered this year’s tournament at home as the fifth favourites to come away with the Paul Barrière Trophy.

England has arguably the toughest group of the tier 1 nations, with the star-studded Samoa and the ever-reliable French side expected to put forth a strong challenge. In fact, the Pacific Islands nation were favoured on every major betting site to top the group – irrespective of their form leading up to the World Cup which saw them beaten in five of their previous eight encounters.

For those who have been unable to catch the action across the opening two weeks, read on as dissect how the England outfit have fared thus far at the 2021 RLWC.

England vs Samoa

Taking place at St James’ Park in Newcastle, this match-up was being billed as the most competitive fixture of the group stages. England have always been a strong side at the international level, and this year is no different – as they boast a talented and experienced squad that is made up of a number of marquee Super League players such as Sam Tomkins, Jack Welsby, John Bateman and George Williams. Couple that with their squad members Elliot Whitehead and Dom Young – of whom compete in the world’s premier domestic competition, the National Rugby League (NRL) – and the Shaun Wane-coached side could be a dark horse to reign supreme in the final at Old Trafford on November 19th.

Firstly, they needed to get past a dangerous Samoan team. Littered with NRL superstars including the likes of Jerome Luai, Brian To’o, Junior Paulo and Joseph Sua’ali’I, Matt Parish’s side posed a threat right across the park. If England were going to come away with the win, they needed to dominate the early exchanges in the middle. The home side delivered and then some, battering the Samoan forwards into submission on both the defensive end and with ball in hand.

That freed up outside backs Williams, Welsby and Tomkins to attack the tiring Samoa team’s edges. They did so brilliantly, with Welsby linking up with winger Young on multiple occasions to shoot out to an 18-point lead. Samoa managed to stop the bleeding just before half-time, with their centre Izack Tago intercepting a Welsby pass to run 80 metres and score a try to cut the deficit to 12 at the break.

England didn’t let that deter them however, coming out even better in the second half to score 42 unanswered points and win by a staggering margin of 54.

England vs France

Riding the highs of a dominant win against a talented Samoa outfit – England needed to ensure they didn’t rest on their laurels when they played France in their second World Cup fixture. Despite being a shadow of the team they once were, the French entered their game against England off the back of strong 34-12 win over Greece. With a number of Super League players in their squad, they had an outside chance of causing an upset – provided they started well.

They couldn’t do so however, as England raced out to an 18-point lead inside the first 25 minutes courtesy of a double to Ryan Hall and a try to Luke Thompson. France managed to fight back and end the half strong, scoring twice to trail by just six at the main break.

Once again though, England put any disappointment from the end of the first half to the side and dominated the second stanza, winning the half 30-6 and the match 48-18.

For those after free betting tips, as a result of their two convincing wins, England has firmed in the betting lines and are now sitting at 6/1 at the time writing.