Saxons clinch Churchill Cup glory
June 19, 2010
England Saxons fullback Alex Goode touches down for a try during the clash at the Red Bull Arena
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England Saxons claimed the 2010 Churchill Cup crown with a 38-18 victory over Canda at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Winger Nick Abendanon and fullback Alex Goode scored early tries as the Saxons established an early 17-0 lead with the boot of fly-half Stephen Myler converting both to add to an early penalty. Canada, in their first Churchill Cup finale, hit back with fly-half Matt Evans and flanker Chauncey O'Toole toucheing down, but two more Myler penalties ensured the Saxons led 23-13 at half-time.
A converted try from centre Jon Clarke early in the second period finished the game as a contest, before flanker Luke Narraway got on the scoresheet with 20 minutes to play. Ryan Smith touched down late on for Canada, but the Saxons, who played some impressive, fluent rugby at times, had already secured a deserved win and the Churchill Cup silverware for the fifth time.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster said, "It's a fantastic achievement. Three weeks ago we met in a Heathrow hotel with disappointed players not making the senior tour and young players who came in straight from the Premiership and collectively to put all that together and form a team is great, I'm really proud. We want to make sure these players have enough room to grow and develop so when they make the step to the senior stage they're ready."
Man of the match Narraway commented, "Full credit to the lads, they have worked hard and we played some exciting football and it was great to be a part of it. We took the foot off the pedal but all credit to Canada they are a real good side. They came back at us but we had enough talent and energy in the tank to win the game."
Abendanon was named the Player of the Tournament but was quick to heap praise on the rest of the squad and the coaching team. "Stuart Lancaster has done a fantastic job and put a structure in place that lets us express ourselves and show off our talent. If you look at the squad there are a lot of guys with pace and we want to get the ball out wide and we had a game plan in place to do that.
"Andy Farrell has come in to work with the backs and it's worked. As a squad we are much fitter than we were last year, plus we have come straight from the Premiership this season into the Churchill Cup so we are all still game ready. For us to come here and win the Churchill Cup is a massive achievement."
Earlier in the day, Russia recorded a 38-19 victory over Uruguay in the 5th/6th place play-off to end their inaugural Churchill Cup campaign on a high. Flanker Victor Gresev led the way with a first half brace and their were further tries from winger Vasily Artemyev, centre Alexey Makovetskiy, scrum-half Alexander Yanyushkin and hooker Vladislav Korshunov underlining their superiority. Fly-half Yury Kushnarev converted four of the tries. Scrum-half Manuel Martinez (2) and fullback Ivo Dugonjic crossed for Uruguay but they were very much second best on the day.
Russia's director of rugby Steve Diamond said, "We have come a longway in 18 months but the goal setting is going well and over the next 18 as wehead towards the World Cup we will get better. The Churchill Cup has beengreat. The Russians have had a big eye opener about how to prepare for a topcompetition. It's good to play at the highest level and they have learnt thatthey need to prepare fully for each game."
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