Benjamin shines as Saxons rout USA
June 4, 2011
England's Henry Trinder is levelled by Mike Palefau during Saturday's game at Frankin's Gardens
© Getty Images
Miles Benjamin helped himself to a hat-trick as England Saxons kicked off the defence of their Churchill Cup crown with a resounding 87-8 victory over the USA at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday evening.
Stuart Lancaster's men racked up 13 tries in total, with Mike Brown bagging a brace and Micky Young, Tom Johnson, Billy Twelvetrees, Henry Trinder, Charlie Sharples, Graham Kitchener and Paul Hodgson all scoring one apiece. The Saxons' other five-pointer came courtesy of referee Nigel Owens, who was left with no option but to award a penalty try after an overpowered American pack brought down a succession of scrums five metres from their own line. Fly-half Rory Clegg, meanwhile, contributed 22 points with the boot.
The Americans actually started impressively and their early endeavour was rewarded with three points after just two minutes of play, Tai Enosa slotting over a penalty from right in front of the posts after Matt Mullan had been pinged for coming in from the side.
However, the Saxons' response was both swift and devastating. Benjamin finished off a decent attacking move, sparked by a terrific charge forward by Jordan Crane, before Brown raced away to score after the Americans had thrown away possession in midfield.
Trinder then threatened after collecting Twelvetrees' chip forward, only to be wrapped up by the American defence, before Brown turned provider, teeing Benjamin up for his second try of the game with a delightfully-weighted grubber into the left corner.
The shell-shocked Americans managed to stem the flow for a while but England racked up their fourth try on 24 minutes when Young exploited the space created by a powerful rolling maul from his forwards to cruise over under the posts.
While the Saxons were garnering only sporadic joy from their maul, it was in the scrum that they were really dominating, thanks in no small part to the work of Saracens prop Matt Stevens, and their set-piece superiority yielded an inevitable penalty try right on the stroke of half-time which made it 33-3 to the hosts.
The Saxons extended their lead within two minutes of the re-start, Brown jinking his way over after more intense forward pressure had forced the USA into a turnover inside their own 22. Johnson then decided to get in on the try-scoring action - and in some style too, the Exeter Chiefs flanker stepping inside one man before showing a terrific turn of pace in bursting through the defence to score.
England were over again just seconds later, a devastating counter-attack from inside their own half ending with Benjamin putting Twelvetrees in for a deserved try.The game had long since ended as a meaningful contest but credit to the Saxons, they did not let up and Trinder breezed in for their tenth try of the evening after being put clear by Gloucester team-mate Sharples, who then helped himself to a try moments later.
Replacement Kitchener turned in an impressive cameo after being sprung from the bench for the closing stages, bounding through to score nine minutes from time before producing a sublime show-and-go down the left wing to leave fellow substitute Paul Hodgson with the simplest of finishes. The USA had the final say, with Scott Lavalla worming his way over from close range, but that score offered scant consolation to the Americans after their worst ever defeat to an England side.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.