First the good news: England have at least three new contenders for places in the backline in next year's World Cup after Zak Hardaker, Josh Charnley and especially Kallum Watkins all excelled in this 14-try romp. But a deflatingly one-sided match was a reminder that it will be impossible to measure whether these likely lads are ready to compete with the giants of the southern hemisphere unless and until they are thrown in at the deep end next year.
The Rugby Football League has been working to provide more meaningful competition in the northern hemisphere for more than a decade, and the controversial inclusion of the Celtic Crusaders in an expanded Super League back in 2009 was a determined attempt to revive the Wales national team. But this was a depressing indication of how far there is to go.
The outgunned underdogs, only one of whom – the captain Craig Kopczak – would be an automatic choice at a Super League club, gave their all, and when the Castleford forward Dan Fleming shrugged off Gareth Hock for their second try early in the second half, a scoreline of 12-32 was reasonably respectable. But conceding eight tries in little more than half an hour was downright embarrassing, both for Wales and international rugby league.
England tried to talk up the ruthlessness which allowed Charnley to end with four tries and Hardaker, Ryan Hall and Leroy Cudjoe to collect a couple apiece. Charnley could have done no more to seize the chance to snatch the right-wing place previously filled by Hull's Tom Briscoe,
Hardaker scored a couple of elegant long-striding tries and looked a highly capable full-back deputy for Sam Tomkins, but Watkins's performance was the most exciting. Perhaps in the powerful, skilful and athletic Mancunian England finally have a centre to match Australia's Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges. But making mincemeat of part-timers can be of only limited value for a team who will return to Wales in just under a year to face Australia at the Millennium Stadium in the first match of the World Cup.
They should receive a stiffer test from France in the remaining two matches of this underwhelming Autumn International Series, in east Hull next Saturday and then in the final at Salford on 11 November.
Les Chanticleers beat Wales 20-6 with plenty to spare in their first match of the tournament in Lens, and they have the bruising forward Jamal Fakir to add to some already formidable firepower such as Rémi Casty, who along with Grég Mounis and Thomas Bosc, has proved with his Super League form for the Catalan Dragons that he will compete with England as an equal.
But the greatest lesson from this tournament, as well as the need to give Wales and France every possible further assistance over the next 12 months, may well be the need to continue arranging mid-season matches for England against the Exiles team drawn from the overseas players employed in the Super League. If Hardaker, Charnley and Watkins can excel at that level, it would do more to convince the England coach, Steve McNamara, that they are ready for the ultimate test.
Wales Moss; Kear, Channing, Roets, D James; Jones, Seamark; J James, Budworth, Kopczak (capt), Lloyd, B Evans, Flower. Interchange Dudson, Fleming, Burke, Parry.
Tries Roets, Fleming. Goals Seamark 2.
England Hardaker; Charnley, Watkins, Cudjoe, Hall; Sinfield (capt), Myler; Morley, McIlorum, Hill, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, O'Loughlin. Interchange Burrow, Hock, Ablett, Mossop.
Tries Hall 2, Charnley 4, Hardaker 2, Watkins, Ellis, Burrow, Cudjoe 2, Jones-Buchanan. Goals Sinfield 12.
Referee Thierry Alibert (Fr).
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