WITH the official start of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup now less than one week away the build-up is in full swing in the United Kingdom.


Many of the competing nations took part in a number of warm-up matches with a few shock results indicating this will be one of the most competitive Cups yet.


Perhaps the biggest talking point was the 15-14 win for Italy over the host nation England who boasted a star-studded line-up for the match played at Salford.


With Intrust Super Cup halves Ryan Ghietti (Northern Pride) and Tim Maccan (Tweed Heads Seagulls) helping guide the Anthony Minichiello-led team around the park the first-time World Cup entrants the Azzuri showed they will be a force to be reckoned with when the tournament kicks off.


The other major upset saw another World Cup first timer in the USA surprise France 22-18 in their match in Toulouse.


Ipswich Jet Michael Garvey scored one of the USAs four tries in a match where goal-kicking proved the difference. The full match report can be found below.


A Week 1 Wrap can be found on the NRL website with links to the match reports from all the games: http://www.nrl.com/world-cup-week-1-wrap/tabid/10874/newsid/75109/default.aspx .


Rugby League World Cup warm-up match results


England Knights 52 def Samoa 16 (Saturday)

Italy 15 def England 14 (Saturday)

Papua New Guinea 38 def Scotland 20 (Saturday)

Fiji 78 def Rochdale 0 (Saturday)

USA 22 def France 18 (Friday)

New Zealand 50 def Cook Islands 0 (Sunday)


Match report: France v USA Tomahawks (by Chris Garry)


THE USA Tomahawks have boosted the code of rugby league in America tremendously, beating the worlds fourth-ranked nation France 22-20 in a Rugby League World Cup warm-up.


The most important victory in the Tomahawks surging journey could not have been achieved without American National Rugby League president David Niu who has been a driving force for the game in the USA for decades.


The effort he showed to build the code in America was repeated by the players in a hostile Toulouse stadium on Friday night featuring raucous French fans.


Tomahawks' coach Terry Matterson said it was the players' effort, not the win in a warm up match that truly impressed him.


Matterson, a North Queensland Cowboys assistant, was only appointed to the role 13 days ago.


The Tomahawks first training session occurred the day before the match and in the week leading up to the clash they spent 39 hours travelling in planes, trains, buses and cabs.


Unperturbed, the Tomahawks dominated the ruck early and were rewarded with a slick try to Philadelphia born and raised centre Mike Garvey who finished a smooth backline movement.


While the French returned serve soon after, in the 29th minute USA re-took the lead when Belrose-based halfback and veteran Tomahawk David Marando dived over.


France repeatedly responded as William Barthau scored two tries in an impressive performance and the home team took a 14-10 half time lead.


However the USA team refused to accept their status as an alleged minnow.


The Tomahawks, ranked 12th in the world, clawed their advantage back in the 53rd minute when second rower Matt Shipway barged over following a beautiful short-ball from inspirational captain Joseph Paulo.


Again the French responded with a well-crafted try, however the Tomahawks brilliant victory was sealed when Connecticut Wildcats fullback and former Sunshine Coast junior Kristian Freed sneaked over the line in the 73rd minute.


The Tomahawks were forced to repel repeat sets on their line in the final two minutes and a late sin-binning to hang on for a great start to their Rugby League World Cup campaign.


The Tomahawks were also missing four of their most seasoned players in Wigans Eddy Pettybourne, Salfords Ryan McGoldrick, Newcastle Knights forward Clint Newton and Wests Tigers hooker Joel Luani who will all be available for the World Cup games.


At the end of the day this was a friendly and it served its purpose but it will give us a lot of confidence, he said.


This is a real shot in the arm for USA rugby league.


We have traveled far and wide to get here.


Concentrating on the outcomes wont help us, we are concentrating on improving these players and working hard as a team and we will go from there.


I was just pleased with the effort of everyone but especially the American players.


I just want the guys to play to the best of their ability in the three World Cup games and if they do that we have a chance at winning each.


The Tomahawks play their first RLWC match against the Cook Islands in Bristol on Wednesday, October 30.


USA 22 (Mike Garvey, David Marando, Matt Shipway, Kristian Freed tries; Joseph Paulo three goals) def France 20 (Barthou 2, Vacari, Duport tries; Bosc goal) at Stade des Minimes