England coach Shaun Wane was less interested in records than continuing to build for the knockout stages after watching his side run riot against World Cup debutants Greece with a 94-4 triumph at Bramall Lane.
Wane’s men had racked up 102 points in their opening wins over Samoa and France and continued in free-flowing mode against their part-time opponents to eclipse their previous record World Cup score, a 76-4 win over Russia in 2000.
“It was an awkward one to deal with,” Wane said. “The record doesn’t interest me, I was looking for habits and certain things that will help us beat Papua New Guinea if we get them.”
England ran in 17 tries, four of them from new wing sensation Dom Young, while man of the match Marc Sneyd contributed 30 points with a try and 13 conversions.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Wane said. “The skills we displayed were superb and I love the quality of tries but the score doesn’t interest me.
“It was a very tough one today to give any positive thoughts but we will go into next week with some confidence.”
Young continued his blazing start to his international career, going top of the tournament tryscoring chart with eight in his three games, while his wing rival Ryan Hall continued to press his claims for a quarter-final spot with a brace, taking his remarkable tally for England to 39 in 40 appearances.
Wane also has Tom Makinson providing competition for a wing spot after deputising at full-back for Sam Tomkins against Greece as he looks to assemble his best team for next Saturday’s quarter-final in Wigan.
“I’m fairly close,” Wane said. “Everybody has played now but I will pick the 17 players who can get us a win against Papua New Guinea.
“Dom’s playing really well and he trains well. He’s quiet off the field but he knows how to score and how to carry out of yardage. He’s a talent, no doubt about it.”
England’s victory enabled them to top Group A and stand-off George Williams, who has a record of two wins out of two as acting captain, says excitement is now building for the knockout stages.
“These are the games you want to be involved in,” he said. “We believed any way but we’ve slowly built. There are still things we can build on from today but these are the games you want to be involved in.”
Wane says he was impressed by the contribution of Sneyd, who must now wait to see if he keeps his place in the team.
“I would hope so but all I can do is my best on field and in training,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
🥳 A record-breaking afternoon in Sheffield sees us finish top of Group A! pic.twitter.com/R4tg6zhH2D
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) October 29, 2022
Greece enjoyed their moment of glory when full-back Siteni Taukamo scored an 18th-minute try that briefly kept them in the game at 10-4 and they will take home happy memories of their inaugural World Cup despite their mauling by England.
Coach Steve Georgallis, who has been at the helm since 2003, was close to tears in the post-match press conference as he praised both his team and their hosts.
“I’m proud and happy and a little bit emotional,” said Georgallis.
“I don’t think you get to walk around the field after being beaten by 90 and have the crowd cheering and calling out the name of your country.
“We had four domestic players all on at once, which is awesome.
“I thought for the first 20 minutes we gave England a bit of a show. I just think they clicked into another gear and class shone but the players never gave up.
“England scored some really good tries. They have a lot of class.
“From what I’ve seen today, I think they’ve got the team to go all the way.”
Rugby league was illegal in Greece until the summer and captain Jordan Meads is confident his team can build on their first experience of the big stage.
“It’s sad it’s all over but what an experience,” he said. “This is just the start for rugby league in Greece.
“We’re keen to shed that victim mentality and push forward. I can’t wait to see what the next couple of years can bring.”