ENGLAND’S men and women secured comfortable victories over France in Toulouse with the help of a glut of Saints players.

Saints full-back Jack Welsby crossed twice as the men defeated their hosts 40-8, while Emily Rudge touched down for the women in their 42-0 success at Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Both England’s men and women faced France as part of French rugby league’s 90th anniversary celebrations.

England’s men, with Saints’ Matty Lees contributing at prop, extended their winning run against France to 23 matches.

In the absence of head coach Shaun Wane, recovering from ankle surgery, England hit back after France had taken a surprise early lead to score eight tries and remain unbeaten against France since 1981.

The winning margin would have been bigger had half-back Harry Smith not missed four of his eight conversion attempts, but England were made to work harder than the scoreline suggests.

France stunned the visitors by taking a third-minute lead when Fouad Yaha raced on to Arthur Mourgue’s bouncing kick to score a converted try in the corner.

England struggled to get going and when Mourgue converted a 20th-minute penalty to put France 8-0 up, Wane’s side had not created a scoring chance.

But that changed shortly afterwards as England clicked into gear to run in four tries in just over 10 minutes to turn their deficit into an 18-8 half-time advantage.

Welsby touched down in the corner, Ash Handley finished off two moves out wide on the right and opposite wing Tom Johnstone also went over, with Smith landing only one of his first four conversion attempts.

England were forced to defend for the first 20 minutes after the restart before Matty Nicholson ran on to Smith’s clever kick to score, with Welsby going over for his second try five minutes later.

Smith converted the latter and landed two more after captain George Williams had darted over and Johnstone scored his second try to complete the scoring.

England are next in action when they face Samoa in a two-Test series, the first at Wigan on October 27 and the second at Headingley the following Saturday.

England’s women ran in eight unanswered tries, including one each from Saints’ Emily Rudge and Paige Travis, in another dominant display.

Joining Rudge and Travis in the starting line-up from Saints’ squad, England were skippered by Jodie Cunningham, while Zoe Harris was at stand-off plus Katie Mottershead made her England debut off the bench and Vicky Whitfield was also introduced as a replacement.

Stuart Barlow’s side, who beat France 64-0 when the two sides last met in April last year, went over four times in in either half, while teenager Isabel Rowe landed five of her eight conversion attempts.

Winger Anna Davies and Georgie Hetherington both scored tries on their debuts, either side of Amy Hardcastle’s touch down, while Zoe Harris also went over in the first period.

Having led 20-0 at the interval, England added another four tries in the second period through Paige Travis, Davies’ second of the match, Eboni Partington and Rudge.