Saxons run riot in Denver
June 14, 2009
Tom Varndell was on target for the Saxons in Denver
© Getty Images
England Saxons thrashed the USA 56-17 at Infinity Park in Denver to book their place in the Churchill Cup final next weekend.
The Saxons notched up a big win thanks to tries from Nick Kennedy, Micky Young, Rob Webber, Tom Guest, Tom Varndell, Brad Barritt and Noah Cato while Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler landed 21 points and claimed the Man of the Match honour.
Saxons boss Stuart Lancaster made several switches ahead of the game, notably at fly-half where Myler replaced Danny Cipriani, Newcastle's Young joining him at halfback. Both sides were hit by late injury withdrawals, Dan Cole stepping in to the Saxons front-row in place of Tom Mercey and Ata Malifa replacing Gavin De Bartolo at fullback for the Eagles.
With rumours circulating that Martin Johnson would be stopping in to run the rule over the Saxons ahead of the Elite Player Squad announcement on July 1, the players didn't want for any extra incentive as kick-off neared.
Myler landed the first points with an early penalty before a breakdown in communication between debutant Barritt and Dom Waldouck allowed Eagles centre Lotomau Sifa to scythe through the Saxons defence, stepping fullback Nick Abendanon and finding scrum-half Mike Petri on his shoulder to score.
Unfortunately for the home side they swiftly switched from sublime to ridiculous. Following an excellent kick in to USA territory by Abendanon their maul was put under pressure, Petri refusing to box-kick them out of danger and instead firing the ball to Hercus. The fly-half was caught by Ben Woods on his own goal-line, passing to winger Alipate Tuilevuka whose clearance was charged down, allowing Kennedy to celebrate his return to action with a try.
Myler slotted another penalty before the Eagles lost centre Roland Suniula to the sin-bin for a high-tackle, allowing Myler to further stretch the Saxons' lead. Hercus replied with a penalty of his own to keep the home side in contention as they looked to run the clock down on Suniula's sin-bin, and they strung together another promising move with Sifa again providing a cutting edge in midfield.
Their accuracy let them down however, and following a turnover Cato broke clear to pile pressure on to the USA. Wing Colin Hawley heaved the Saracens man to the ground, but scrum-half Young was alert and sniped over to score the Saxons' second through some non-existent USA tackling.
Young then turned provider in an excellent first-half display, firing a try-scoring pass to Wasps hooker Webber to pile over from close range. Webber rounded off a fine move, with Cato stepping several tacklers and the impressive Woods surging for the line before the decisive contribution.
After a scrappy start to the second-half, handling not being helped by a half-time downpour, Harlequins No.8 Tom Guest showed a clean pair of heels to Hawley, streaking away from a ruck and scoring the Saxons' fourth try.
The USA were again punished on turnover ball soon after, the Saxons scrum putting them under pressure and hooker Brian McClanahan knocking on. The ball was scooped up and spread wide. Barritt broke clear of the Eagles' defence, finding Abendanon on the switch. The Bath fullback hared away before feeding Waldouck, who sent Varndell clear to score under the posts.
Barritt capped his first Saxons start with the next try, profiting from a break by his centre partner Waldouck. The Wasps man picked a line from in to out that flummoxed the home defence and Barritt was on hand to power over.
The Eagles struck back with a try from replacement Chris Biller after excellent work by skipper Todd Clever but Cato showed his worth with a superb finish following yet another sweeping break from the Saxons.
USA: Gavin DeBartolo (Eastern Suburbs), Colin Hawley (California), Junior Sifa (Middleton RFC), Roland Suniula (Pearl City RFC), Alipate Tuilevuka (Provo Steelers), Mike Hercus (Sunshine Coast Stingrays), Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club), Matekitonga Moeakiola (Park City Haggis), Brian McClenahan (Olympic Club), Shawn Pittman (Bayside RFC), John Van Der Giessen (Denver Barbarians), Hayden Smith (Saracens FC), Todd Clever (Lions, capt), Peter Dahl (Belmont Shore RFC), Nic Johnson (Denver Barbarians RFC)
Replacements:Chris Biller (California), Brian Lemay (Boston Irish Wolfhounds), Louis Stanfill (New York Athletic Club), J.J. Gagiano (Univ. of Cape Town), Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC) , Ata Malifa (Belmont Shore RFC), Paul Emerick (Overmach Parma)
England Saxons: N Abendanon (Bath); N Cato (Saracens), D Waldouck (London Wasps), B Barritt (Saracens), T Varndell (Leicester); S Myler (Northampton), M Young (Newcastle Falcons); D Flatman (Bath), R Webber (Wasps), T Mercey (Saracens), P Short (Bath), N Kennedy (London Irish), P Dowson (Newcastle Falcons, capt), B Woods (Leicester), T Guest (Harlequins)
Replacements: D Cole (Leicester), N Briggs (Sale), C Jones (Sale), L Narraway (Gloucester), J Simpson (Wasps), D Cipriani (Wasps), M Smith (Leicester)
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies