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England Knights hammer Samoa in Rugby League World Cup warm-up

Tom Burges on attack:Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
The substitute Jack Hughes scored a second-half hat-trick of tries as England Knights hammered Samoa in a friendly at Salford City Stadium.

The Knights ran in nine tries to three against the Pacific Islanders, who will need to improve greatly if they are to make an impression when they open their World Cup campaign against the 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 but revived his hopes of appearing in the World Cup 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.

The South Sydney prop Tom Burgess also caught the eye with a series of storming runs and clever offloads after he, like Hardaker, was left out of the England side to face Italy.

The Samoans actually looked the more potent attacking side in the opening moments and took the lead through the strong-running centre Joey Leilua after five minutes.

But the Knights took a firm grip on the game thanks largely to the efforts of the lively Wigan prop Scott Taylor whose midfield burst set up the position for Ben Cockayne to send the scrum-half, Sam Powell, over before romping through the visitors' defence for a solo score.

Hardaker added both conversions to make it 12-4 and Samoa lost their new captain, Harrison Hansen, who 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. Samoa's full-back, Anthony Milford, sliced through for a solo try, which he converted, to briefly stem the tide but the Knights increased their lead when Michael Lawrence scored from a fortuitous rebound with his first touch of the ball.

Both sides were temporarily reduced to 12 men when Brad Singleton and Tim Lafai were sent to the sin-bin following a punch-up involving most players on the pitch but the English youngstersmaintained their composure to run away with the game in the second half. Hughes burst through for two tries in the third quarter while the second rower Brett Ferres charged over for one and Powell touched down his own grubber kick to claim his second try.

Hughes profited from an offload by Singleton to complete his hat-trick on 72 minutes but Samoa had the final say when the centre Junior Sa'u , who will be playing for Salford in 2014, scored a consolation try and Pita Godinet added the goal.

The Guardian
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