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McNamara satisfied with scrappy win
Coach Steve McNamara was happy to see his England side come through a rain-sodden and often low-quality encounter against the Exiles with an 18-10 win.
The now-annual mid-season fixture against a team made up of the best overseas players in Super League has been one of the ideas implemented by McNamara since taking office two years ago.
"It was a very tough game in difficult conditions," he said. "We did get loose in the first half, but in the second we had to show grit, determination and steel. I am pleased to get the win this time around. A win was important. We all understand that this concept is in the embryo phase, but it's important to win."
The Exiles, formed to bridge a gap in international competition, won the inaugural fixture at Headingley last year. The honours landed on England's side on Saturday, with early tries from Gareth Hock and Danny Tickle - both making their first appearances in two years - setting them on their way.
The Exiles responded through Francis Meli and Darryl Millard, but with Sam Tomkins scoring in-between, a second Exiles win was never an option.
A number of errors from both sides meant that entertainment was not high on the agenda as the weather ruined any hopes of a free-flowing encounter. Some in the crowd of 11,083 seemed to drift off in the second half, opting to sing songs about their respective clubs, while some chose to boo Hock - back in an England shirt after a drugs ban.
McNamara was only concerned with the win though, adding: "We don't play too many international games. To play a tough team is good; to win is even better. We kicked well and picked up some scrappy tries. That was the only way you could score tonight."
The Exiles - whose best player last year, Rangi Chase, was wearing an England shirt - were never really able to display the flair they were hoping for. With a pack made up largely of Samoan and Tongan bruisers, they were as physical as was expected, but struggled to exert themselves close to the line.
However, coach Daniel Anderson, back in England for the first time since leaving St Helens in 2008, was pleased with the way his thrown-together squad performed.
"We got stuck in, threw ourselves around and were unlucky not to score another try," he said. "We just couldn't get the finishing touch from some of our players. The weather didn't help. We had a wet-weather session yesterday but most of the week had been dry. We wanted to put on a show for the fans, but that's how it is."