England v Samoa: Rugby League World Cup opener – live | Rugby League World Cup 2021

Key events

TRY! England 8-0 Samoa (Welsby, 23)

That’s what happens when you bust through a tackle. Williams gets the pass against the grain and burst through a challenge. Welsby running a superb line on the inside gets it back and canters home unopposed. Direct running the secret to their success there. Wonderful score from England. Watkins involved too to get the move going.

Makinson makes it look easy and adds the cherry on the top.

21 mins: Paulo, a hawuuuge human being, charges up field. A grubber kick from Samoa is stolen so England get back up field. Radley wriggles some space and England hoof the ball back into Samoan territory.

Levi is now injecting more pace around the tackle for Samoa and getting his ball carriers on the charge.

19 mins: Neat step from Williams opens space on the left but a poor kick from England is intercepted and Samoa go cantering up field. They get up to English territory but continue to look disjointed. I’m not really sure what their game plan is. They get nowhere and have to kick.

Tomkins collects well under the high ball and sets off on a counter. He’s having a good game. Later he hoists a high kick that Samoa gather without much fuss.

It all ends in a Samoan penalty deep in theor own half.

It’s a frantic pace but it’s not very cohesive from either side. Still jabbing, rather than throwing knockout punches.

15 mins: It’s a great tackle from Watkins and McMeekan teaming up on Luai that resulted in the turnover. Really good from Watkins. England’s ball on their own 22 out on the right.

15 mins: Samoa finding front foot ball. Papalii heavily involved, busting through tackles. Samoa get a fresh set of six and have crept inside the England 22. But there’s a knock on on the left just as they start to string some passes together. Disjointed is the word.

14 mins: Samoa’s attack isn’t clicking. They might be stacked with superstars but they’re struggling for cohesion. They don’t seem to have a plan and it’s all first phase rugby at the minute. England’s scrambling defence keeps them at arm’s length.

Burgess dots down, but does he?

They’re going back upstairs because Burgess has reached out and slammed the ball over the line, basketball style. But is he in control of the ball? Does he have enough downward force for it to count? The answer to both is no. No try.

13 mins: Watkins with a strong carry up field. Radley, oh what a game he’s having, finds space on the left. Williams steps back inside and off loads to Hill who gets within touching distance. Tompkins picks up and makes a dart for the score under the poles but is held up, he can’t put it down. England really need to convert these chances. Great defence from Samoa under the sticks. England having great joy with the big fellas through the middle.

11 mins: Barnstorming run from Burgess, carrying two tacklers on his back takes it within 7m. It goes left with Radley looking for space. Williams with another short ball to Burgess who comes within touching distance. It fizzles out with a kick through partially blocked and Samoa have it back on their own line. England bossing it.

10 mins: A little chip from Watkins is spilled inside Samoa’s 22 so England will have the ball.

8 mins: Good start from England. They’ve found their groove. The big units are punching holes in midfield but they’re forced to punt it back to Samoa.

A strong run from Levi gets his team moving forward. But they kick it back to England. Missed opportunity after creating space on the left but they kept it direct and straight down the middle.

Wow. More delays. This time there’s an issue with the ball being used. Honestly, this sport doesn’t help itself sometimes.

PENALTY! England 2-0 Samoa (Makinson, 6)

Easy as you like for Tommy Makinson who slots the simple shot at goal. First points of the World Cup go to England.

Yup, no try. But a penalty for England right in front of the poles for obstruction off the ball. Great work from England. That was Whitehead who was taken out.

They’re going upstairs

Farnworth is on the end of a stabbed kick through. I reckon he’s got this. Oh no, he’s knocked it on in the try area. No try, but could still be a penalty.

4 mins: Samoa kick the ball out so England have the ball back. Samoa look bigger in defence and through the middle currently. But Tompkins involved again gets the ball right to Young who finds space on the outside.

They get a full set 20m out and Williams cuts against the grain and brings it within 10m.

Tompkins is everywhere. Williams to short pass to Hill, there’s a kick through on the last tackle of the set and has that been grounded!!??

2 mins: Samoa receive the kick and keep it down the middle, hammering at the door and making almost 40m before the kick it. They kick and Tompkins run it back up. England kick themselves and Samoa have the ball back in their own half. Both teams just jabbing at the minute.

Right then. I’m pumped after that. We’re crawling to a start but I’m still pumped. Here. We. GO!

Oh, but before we do, it’s the Samoan Siva Tau, their version of the New Zealand Haka for those who don’t know.

It starts with one man standing in a ring of his mates all kneeling, facing inward. He’s chanting with gusto, challenging the English, calling on his comrades to rise with him and they do so, turn around to face their opponents, marching towards them. Wow, that is powerful!

They’re close, not quite nose to nose as they bellow “SAMOA”.

Scratch that, one or two do get nose to nose. That was sensational. Forget an opening ceremony. That was spine tingling. ABSOLUTE SCENES!

Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images for RLWC
RUGBYL-WC-2021-ENG-SAMSamoan players perform the Manu Siva Tau prior to the Rugby League World Cup group game betwee England and Samoa.
The Samoan players head towards the England players as they perform the Manu Siva Tau prior to the Rugby League World Cup group game between England and Samoa. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

They’ve got it working! The gremlins in the machine have been booted out. The anthems are in full swing. The players are shoulder to shoulder. The crowd looks incredible! Seconds away.

The crowd cheer the players of England and Samoa as they take to the pitch.
The crowd cheer the players of England and Samoa as they take to the pitch. Photograph: George Wood/Getty Images for RLWC

However, if they can’t get the PA system going, that probably means there won’t be any national anthems. Imagine getting picked for your country to play the opening game of a World Cup and you don’t get to sing your anthem? I really hope they can make a plan.

Some movement now from the players in the dressing room. Seems we may get going soon.

No notes. [chef kiss emoji]. Just delicious.

Kaiser Chiefs got one song before the sound cut out. I Predict a Riot if that doesn’t get sorted like #RLWC2021

— Joe Buck (@16joebuck) October 15, 2022

In the meantime, get a load of this champion! How can Samoa lose with this titan carrying the flag?

Ricky Wilson has no resorted to running around in front of the crowd who must be fuming.

Ricky Wilson of The Kaiser Chiefs entertains the crowd during a delay to the Rugby League World Cup group game between England and Samoa at St James' Park.
Ricky Wilson of The Kaiser Chiefs entertains the crowd during a delay to the start of the game. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Scenes of the players in the dressing room who have gone through their warmup, timed to the exact time, ready to tear lumps out of each other. What happens to them now? If we see a tweaked muscle we might know why.

It’s actually a farce. What a dreadful start to the World Cup. The Kaiser Chiefs band members are waving their hands around. The kids involved in the prematch ceremony look confused. We’re all confused. The PA system has failed and now we’ll get a delayed start to the match.


Seems like that’s been sorted. The trophies are being taken out, Jason Robinson is clutching one side of the one that will be handed out the men’s winners. It’s all a little plodding right now.

Apparently ‘Ruby, Ruby, Ruby’ will be performed by the Kaisers before the rugby takes place.

Nothing like a bloated opening ceremony to really get you in the mood for some sport, eh?

There’s a problem with the PA system! Oh dear. That is a real failure to launch. How does that happen?

The trophies are now being shown off. They’re not the prettiest trinkets, I think that’s fair to say. Pretty standard silverware.

There’s a bit of a hold up and those holding the sizeable trophies must keep holding them up. Not sure what’s causing the delay.

“Oh my god I can’t believe it,” belts out Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs.

I mean, me too. This whole jamboree was in doubt but now we’re finally here. After five years we’ve got a World Cup on our hands!

Not long now. All the flags of all the nations are being brought out to the middle of the field. There’s Brazil, Jamaica, Cook Islands, Spain, USA, Greece. Wonderful.

Today’s guest of honour at St James’ Park is a genuine hero. That word gets tossed around in sport quite a bit, but Rob Burrow is all that and more.

Last year he chatted to Don McRae and that piece is well worth a revisit:

The Beeb are focussing on Luke Thompson, who’ll come off the bench, and the rest of the English pack. For all the chat around the flyers out wide, there is a sense that this opening game, with so much riding on it, might see both sides look to punch holes in the middle and keep it (relatively safe).

As always, the side that dominates those tighter channels will have the ascendancy.

I’ve been hyping up Dom Youngs in particular, but is there anything more exciting in sport than a young tearaway with pace to burn?

In case you needed reminding, here’s the report from his blockbuster performance against Fiji last Friday:

NRL stars give Samoa a boost

19-year old Joseph Suaalii, try-machine Brian To’o and a host of others game changers are stacked in this star-studded side. This is unquestionably the best Samoan side of all time. The only question is, has coach Matt Parish done enough to get them singing from the same sheet?

Samoa: Suaalii, Tabuai-Fidow, Tago, Chrichton, To’o, Luai, Milford, Papalii, Levi, Paulo, Su’a, Aloiai, Tuilagi

Substitutes: Taupau, Leniu, Harris-Tavita, May

England name strong side with Dom Young on the wing

Yup, as expected, youngster Dom Young, will start in the wing (no matter what the BBC’s on screen image stated).

Here’s how they’ll line up:

England: Tomkins, Makinson, watkins, Farnworth, Young, Welsby, Williams, Burgess, McIlorum, Thompson, Radley, Whitehead, Knowles

Substitutes: Lees, Cooper, Hill, McMeekan

Is there a more exciting young player in the game than England’s Dom Young? The 21-year-old who scores tries for fun down in New South Wales for the Newcastle Knights will will almost certainly make his Test debut today.

Five years ago, England fell to Australia in the final, going down 6-0 in Brisbane.

Tom Burgess was there and he’s still hurting.

He told Aaron Bower all about that pain, and why it’s fuelling his drive to make things right this time:


Daniel Gallan

Daniel Gallan

Folks, we made it. After so many false starts, after the a global plague threatened to scupper it entirely, after five long years since the last one, we’re within touching distance of a Rugby League World Cup!

This latest iteration, played on English soil for the first time since 2013, could well be the most competitive yet. The hosts will fancy their chances. Skipper Sam Tomkins told the BBC this week that his team is “here to win it,” but they’ll have stiff competition, not least from their opponents today in Newcastle.

Samoa are a team on the rise. Some bookies have them edging England, an unthinkable notion 12 months ago. But this is not the Samoan side of yesteryear. They’re stacked with players born in Australia and New Zealand but with Samoan heritage who have opted to represent the land of their forbears.

Brian To’o might have walked into the Aussie starting line-up but will pose a challenge on the Samoan wing instead. His two tries helped Penrith Panthers lift the NRL title earlier this month in a squad that bow boasts five other Samoan internationals.

This should be a tournament like no other, and it has the perfect matchup to get is going. Of course it’s not the only one, with a women’s edition and a first ever wheelchair competition to follow as well.

St James’ Park is bathed in glorious sunshine with the sport illuminated in an unprecedented glow.

My name is Daniel. Do get in touch with a tweet or an email.

Kick off is at 2:30pm.

Fans mill around in the sunshine outside St James’ Park for the Rugby League World Cup group game between England and Samoa.
Fans mill around in the sunshine outside St James’ Park for the Rugby League World Cup group game between England and Samoa. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

England v Samoa: Rugby League World Cup opener – live | Rugby League World Cup 2021 Source link England v Samoa: Rugby League World Cup opener – live | Rugby League World Cup 2021

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