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England’s place in the quarter-finals is already secured
  1. Rugby League

Rugby League World Cup: England v Greece preview

Rugby League World Cup hosts England have made a bright start to the tournament and will be eager to finish the pool stages on a high when they face Greece on Saturday.

Sheffield’s Bramall Lane is the stage of the hosts’ final Pool A encounter, against a Greece side that will be determined to put in a resilient performance against the title contenders.

England taking no chances

WhatEngland v Greece, RL World Cup
WhereBramall Lane, Sheffield
When14:30, Saturday 29th October 2022
How to watchBBC One & iPlayer
OddsEngland 1/1000, Greece 100/1

England’s place in the quarter-finals is already secured after convincing wins over both Samoa and France in Pool A. Samoa were expected to cause England problems but suffered a 60-6 defeat in Newcastle, before the men in white saw off France 42-18 in Bolton.

Head coach Shaun Wane is clearly looking to keep the positive momentum going as his side face Greece in Sheffield.

Some big names have been rested after featuring in the first two games, with captain Sam Tomkins among those who will be watching from the sidelines at Bramall Lane.

George Williams has been given the armband for England, having previously captained the side in their pre-tournament warm-up game against Fiji.

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Hooker Michael McIlorum, centre Herbie Farnworth and second rower Elliott Whitehead are other expected starters in the knockout stages who have also been rested for Saturday’s clash with the Titans.

But St Helens trio Tom Makinson, Morgan Knowles and Matty Lees all return as Wane takes no chances in this one.

Wane has been eager for his side to play with an element of freedom in this World Cup and, while there is a structure, the former Wigan Warriors head coach is eager for his stars to show off their talents.

"We had a really tough week before the French game," said Wane. "This week we've laid off the players a bit, they've had less metres on their legs so they will be very fresh.

"I want them to go out and express themselves - that's been the message from day one.

"They're good players, I give them a rough game plan but I want them to play and don't feel anchored down by a game plan."

Greeks lose Magoulias

Greece’s monumental challenge has been made all the more difficult as experienced forward Billy Magoulias has flown home to Australia to be there for the birth of his first child.

The Titans have though been boosted by the return of skipper Jordan Meads who has recovered from illness after missing a 72-4 defeat at the hands of Samoa last time out.

International debuts are in the pipeline for Ioannis Rousoglou, Ioannis Nake and Konstantinos Katsidonis, who all play their club rugby in Greece.

This is Greece’s first World Cup appearance and the Titans have learned quickly the standards required to have a chance of playing knockout rugby.

The Greeks will want to finish the tournament in a positive manner against the hosts but in truth, it looks set to be a long afternoon in the Steel City for the Titans.

England can be out of sight before the break

With confidence high in the England camp, Wane will be hoping the game is put to bed in the first 40 minutes at Bramall Lane.

If Samoa had the ability to put over 70 points past the Greeks, it’s an ominous sign for Saturday’s game.

England have scored 102 points in their first two outings of the World Cup, with only reigning champions Australia scoring more in that time.

Greece’s frailties in defence at this level have been apparent in their first two outings of the tournament and things are not likely to get any easier this weekend.

The -64 handicap looks reasonable for England to overcome and they are 10/11 to fall on the right side of that this weekend.

Greece have scored just three tries in their first two matches of the World Cup, compared to England’s 17.

Getting one or two tries would represent a good afternoon for Greece but, in all likelihood, England’s defence might just prove to be too powerful.

Tournament favourites Australia, who are 4/9 to lift the trophy this year for the 12th time in their history, recorded an 84-0 win over Scotland earlier in this World Cup and a similar scoreline might well be on the cards in Sheffield on Saturday.

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