Four Nations warm-up: France 6-40 England
|Four Nations warm-up|
|France (6) 6|
|Tries: Pellisier Goals: Gigot|
|England (22) 40|
|Tries: Hall 2, Clark, G Burgess, Brown, McGillvary, Widdop Goals: Widdop 6|
Coach Wayne Bennett's first game in charge of England ended in a Four Nations warm-up victory over France.
After a tight start, the home side took a surprise lead as Eloi Pellisier went over, but Ryan Hall, twice, Daryl Clark and George Burgess hit back.
Kevin Brown and Jermaine McGillvary touched down in the corner and Gareth Widdop also scored in the second half.
England face New Zealand in their first Four Nations match next Saturday in Huddersfield (kick-off 14:30 BST).
The tournament gets under way on Friday in Hull, where Australia take on debutants Scotland (kick-off 20:00 BST).
This proved to be a strong test in Avignon for England, against a France side much improved from the one hammered 84-4 the last time the countries met in October 2015.
Australian Bennett replaced Steve McNamara, who had been in the role for five and a half years, in February and saw his side in action for the first time without the likes of captain Sam Burgess and full-back Sam Tomkins.
He gave five players their debuts - Jonny Lomax, Mark Percival, Luke Gale and Stefan Ratchford all getting their first caps - as did the impressive Hull prop Scott Taylor, who showed some powerful running.
England were scoreless for the first 27 minutes, before taking control with a flurry of four tries in 13 minutes.
Having gone behind to a Pellisier try from dummy half, it was the dangerous Leeds Rhinos winger Hall who finished off two tries in the corner
It took his tally for the national side to 28 in as many games. In between, Warrington Wolves man Clark scooted in and George Burgess barged over.
Widnes skipper Brown finished off a smart move, Huddersfield winger McGillvary got his first England try and Widdop ran clear as Bennett's side cruised to victory.
England head coach Wayne Bennett: "I wasn't disappointed. I thought we handled it pretty well without blowing them away.
"I thought France tried really hard, they were really competitive and had good ball control. I was pretty pleased with all the new caps, I wasn't disappointed with anybody tonight.
"But it hasn't made my job of picking a side for next week tougher - I already had an idea of my team to face New Zealand anyway."
France head coach Aurelien Cologni: "I'm very happy with our performance but I'm frustrated with some of the referee's decisions.
"When we were six points ahead, we got two penalties and they take a lot out of you, as it makes it very difficult to build pressure.
"We can be proud as we pushed England into a bad situation. It was a good game for them and us as we showed a good mentality. It was a good test and will give us confidence to prepare for the World Cup."
Wales coach John Kear on BBC TV:
"I think this England side will really challenge in the Four Nations tournament.
"A job very well done. Coach Wayne Bennett will be very happy. The conditions weren't the best against a committed French side, who were very spirited and gutsy. The England players looked comfortable though and believe in the coach. An 8/10 performance.
"Bennett will have a very good idea of who he is going with against New Zealand next week. He will have 14 or 15 in mind but this game will solidify the remaining positions."
France: Gigot; Pala, Garcia, Dupont, Arnaud; Robin, Barthau; Navarette, Da Costa, Casty, Simon, Jullien, Bousquet
Replacements: Pelissier, Goudemand, Springer, Larroyer
England: Lomax; McGillvary, Watkins, Percival, Hall; Widdop, Gale; Graham, Hodgson, Taylor, Whitehead, Cooper, T Burgess
Replacements: G Burgess, Brown, Ratchford, Clark
Referee: Phil Bentham