The Combined Nations All Stars won a thrilling midseason international 26-24 over England at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The All Stars drew first blood just four minutes in. Jake Connor managed to throw a cut out pass out to Ken Sio, who scored in the corner. Aidan Sezer missed the conversion, meaning their lead stood at four points.
However, England were able to hit back five minutes later. Liam Farrell got through the line and ran just over half the length of the pitch to score. Stefan Ratchford converted to put England ahead by two points.
Soon after, Farrell was able to get his second. He took in a pass from Luke Gale and got the ball down, despite having two defenders on him. Ratchford converted to take their lead up to a two-try margin.
With just over 15 minutes left of the first half, the All Stars hit back. Connor was once again involved. He delayed a pass to get Peter Mata’utia through a gap to score. Sezer converted to reduce the deficit to two points.
That deficit was wiped out just past the half hour. Sezer kicked a penalty after England were caught offside.
Sezer kicked a second penalty right on half-time to send the All Stars in front at the break. The penalty was given after a high shot by Joe Westerman.
The All Stars extended their lead just six minutes into the second half. Jermaine McGillvary took in a pass out wide, held his run and was able to score in the corner. Sezer converted to get them up to 20 points.
Just three minutes later, England were able to hit back. Gale dropped a short ball to Morgan Knowles, who sprinted through the gap and scored. Ratchford converted to bring England back within two points.
However, the All Stars extended their lead again just before the hour. A kick from Jackson Hastings deflected into the path of Sio, who grabbed his second try. Sezer converted to give Tim Sheens’ side their eight-point lead back.
With 12 minutes to go, England gave themselves a chance again. Reece Lyne attacked the line, and got the ball out to Tom Davies, who scored in the corner. Ratchford converted to leave two points in the contest.
England huffed and puffed, but could not find that all-important score. They take on Fiji in October in Rochdale for their final warm up before the World Cup.
England: Sam Tomkins, Tom Davies, Reece Lyne, Ben Currie, Tommy Makinson, Stefan Ratchford, Luke Gale, Morgan Knowles, Paul McShane, Mike Cooper, John Bateman, Liam Farrell, Joe Westerman.
Subs: Ash Handley, Daryl Clark, Mikolaj Oldezki, Joe Philbin.
Head Coach: Shaun Wane.
Combined Nations All Stars: Jake Connor, Ken Sio, Peter Mata’utia, Ricky Leutele, Jermaine McGillvary, Jackson Hastings, Aidan Sezer, Matt Prior, Nathan Peats, Chris Satae, Kenny Edwards, Kelepi Tanginoa, Luke Yates.
Subs: Kruise Leeming, Pauli Pauli, Suaia Matagi, Andre Savelio.
Head Coach: Tim Sheens.