Saxons hammer Portugal
January 30, 2009
Saxons scrum-half Harry Ellis scored two tries in the romp over Portugal at Edgeley Park
© Getty Images
England Saxons ran in ten tries as they cruised past Portugal 66-0 in their clash at Edgeley Park.
Scrum-half Harry Ellis gave England manager Martin Johnson a timely reminder of his quality with an impressive two-try display as the hosts outclassed their continental visitors. The Leicester No.9 returned to action after serving a six-week suspension for a spear tackle on Dan Carter during a Heineken Cup defeat at Perpignan in November.
Keen to make up for lost time, and with the Six Nations starting next weekend, the industrious 26-year-old stated his case for a recall to the senior side by touching down in the 21st minute and adding another shortly before half-time. Stuart Lancaster's young side took 20 minutes to warm up on a bitterly cold night in Stockport but once Ellis had broken the deadlock they made their superior quality pay by running in five tries in each half.
Ellis' Leicester team-mates Tom Varndell (two), Matt Smith and Jordan Crane also got on the scoresheet along with Adam Powell (two), Noah Cato and Dominic Waldouck. Ellis, perhaps more than any other player, will be hoping that England team manager Johnson was watching as he seeks to force his way back into the senior side ahead of next week's Six Nations opener against Italy at Twickenham.
The Tigers talisman, who has won 22 England caps and made four appearances off the bench during the November Tests, set the Saxons on their way when he emerged from a thicket of players to touch down from close range. Five minutes later, Ed Barnes' teasing grubber kick was grounded by Powell and Varndell added a third shortly after when he caught Nick Abendanon's delightful crossfield kick to score in the right corner.
The hosts were aided by a yellow card for hooker Joao Correia in the 36th minute and Ellis soon claimed his second try with a similar effort to his first following another driving maul. Abendanon unselfishly ushered Cato over the line in the left corner shortly before the break to hand the Saxons a commanding 33-0 advantage.
The Saxons initially struggled to impose themselves as vigorously in the second half but Waldouck still found the space to waltz through a static Portuguese defence for a sixth try shortly before the hour mark. Smith found the space to add a seventh before Ellis left the action to generous applause from a crowd of 3,801.
There was still time for Varndell to add an eighth try with another well-taken score down the right flank before Crane and Powell also grounded to take the Saxons into double figures, with eight of their tries being converted.
England Saxons coach Stuart Lancaster singled out his scrum-half Ellis for special praise after the game, commenting, "It was a quick-tempo game tonight and Harry showed what he can do. He used the six weeks to work on his conditioning and with another game behind him in Donnybrook next week, it will obviously be a sterner challenge for him. That will set him up nicely and leave the senior coaches with a decision to make."
Lancaster also paid tribute to Varndell, who has lost his place in the Leicester and England senior squad this season after a miserable struggle with injuries and loss of form. "We set him a goal of 10 carries and I think he did that in the first half, so I'm pleased in that regard," said Lancaster. "He also scored a couple of nice tries and Tom's challenge now is get back into the Leicester side and from there, he can hopefully kick back onto the international scene."
Lancaster declared himself pleased with his side's efforts and will make wholesale changes for next week's trip across the Irish Sea. "It will be an exciting side to coach next week but I've been delighted with the way this group has bonded and gelled together," added the former Leeds Carnegie boss.
England Saxons: Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby), Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers), Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps), Adam Powell (Saracens), Noah Cato (Saracens), Ed Barnes (Bristol Rugby), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Rob Webber (London Wasps), Dave Wilson (Newcastle Falcons), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers), George Skivington (London Wasps), Kearnan Myall (Leeds Carnegie), Andy Saull (Saracens), Phil Dowson (Newcastle Falcons, captain)
Replacements: 16. Joe Ward (London Wasps) for Webber 49, 17. Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby) for Cole 55mins, 18. Tom Mercey (Saracens) for Wilson 61 mins, 19. Jon Fisher (London Irish) for Saull 69 mins, 20. Joe Simpson (London Wasps) for Ellis 61 mins, 21. Alex Goode (Saracens) for Barnes 49, 22. Matt Smith (Leicester Tigers) for Waldouck 55 mins
Scorers: Tries: Ellis 2, Powell 2, Varndell 2, Cato, Waldouck, Smith, Crane Pens: Cons: Barnes 4, Goode 4
Portugal: Pedro Cabral, Aderito Esteves, Diogo (David) Mateus, Franciso Mira, Gonçalo Foro, Duarte C.Pinto, José Pinto, Jorge Segurado, João Correia, Juan Murré, Juan Severino, Gonçalo Uva, Eduardo Acosta, Salvador Palha, Vasco Uva
Replacements: 16. João Junior for Correia 32-41 mins and for Segurado 53mins, 17. Nuno Taful for Palha 32-41mins and for Correia 75, 18. David dos Reis for Uva 16mins, 19. Antonio Duarte for Severino 61 mins, 20. Pedro Leal for Pinto 53mins, 21 Pedro Silva for Esteves 24mins, 22. Antonio Aguiilar for Mira 45mins
Sin binned: Correia (31-41)
Referee: P Allan (Scotland)
Man of the Match: Nick Abendanon (England)
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring