More England joy for Tomkins

SAM Tomkins is beginning to make a habit of this - the last time he played for England at Leigh Sports Village he swept over for four tries in a comfortable win over France.

And on Saturday afternoon, he matched that scoring feat to send England top of the embryonic Four Nations table.

“It’s been pretty good to me so far,” he smiled, when asked about playing for England at the venue.

“It’s nice to cross the line but any number of lads could have scored them.

“We’re happy with how we played, there were areas after the France game the week before that we needed to improve on and we did that.

“There are new lads in the side, Rangi (Chase) has come into the middle and Chris Heighington’s in there at loose forward, and Jack (Reed) is on one edge, but I think you can see as time goes on the combinations are getting better.

“The important thing is they’re buying into our thinking that we need some silverware in this country.”

Despite the scoreline, this was not the most accomplished display from England.

Their first-half showing in particular was littered with handling errors that would have been punished by Australia and New Zealand.

But there were enough positives to convince Steve McNamara and the players that they are progressing well ahead of their fixtures against those heavyweights over the next two weeks.

Realistically, England need only win one of those games to book a place in the Four Nations final at Elland Road.

“In the first half we gave Wales too much but they were playing with a lot of emotion and they probably saw this as the one game they could shock people,” said Tomkins.

“We’re under no illusions – we’re not going to be scoring 30 points through this competition we have to get better in the next two weeks.

“I watched the game between Australia and New Zealand (on Friday) and nothing worried me. They had flaws that we’ll try and exploit.

“We’ll respect them but this is the strongest squad I’ve been involved in.”

Wales were always going to struggle and, from the moment when ex-Warriors prop Jordan James was knocked out cold after 13 seconds by a hard but clean Ben Westwood hit, it was obvious it was not going to be their day.

By the time the opening minute was out, fleet-footed Tomkins had scored the first of his quartet.

“Sam is elusive isn’t he?” McNamara said.

“He’s been in that form for Wigan and he brought those boots with him.

“He’s a very potent player and he looked very sharp.”

His scoring feat, matching Tony Clubb’s tournament record, added the polish to a largely jittery and unconvincing display by England against a Welsh outfit containing eight part-timers.

Tomkins took a pass from Kevin Sinfield to slice through the defence for a second on 15 minutes, and proved his defensive mettle by halting Craig Kopczak on a breakaway charge.

Wales’ spirit never faded, but their energy levels did, and even though it was only 14-0 at half-time – Chase and Sinfield showed some great skills to carve out a try for Kirk Yeaman – there was a sense of inevitability to the one-way traffic that was to follow.

Second rower Gareth Ellis began punching holes through the heart of the Welsh defence and it was from his clean break that Tomkins completed his hat-trick on 49 minutes, which secured him the man-of-the-match award.

Tomkins was presented with his fourth after Lee Briers blotted his otherwise strong display when a short drop-out failed to go the required 10 metres, sandwiching tries by NRL-based Jack Reed and Chris Heighington.

Wales managed a consolation through Elliot Kear but boss Iestyn Harris, the new Warriors assistant coach, said: “I’m super, super proud of the way they dug in for each other and we need to work on some areas to improve.

“But they’re on board and excited about improving themselves,”