England Saxons open Churchill Cup with a bang

England Saxons scored 12 tries on their way to hammering the USA 87-8 at Franklins Gardens in the Churchill Cup.

The USA started mostly domestic players to give them experience against a Saxons team that was fully professional.

Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan tried some experimental combinations and gave domestic players an opportunity to play at a very high level. The Eagles were starved of possession by the Saxons and the English side was able to capitalize on turnovers, scoring seven tries from turnover ball.

USA struck first after solid phase play resulted in a penalty which outside center, Tai Enosa, converted with ease in the 3rd minute. England answered back quickly through the very lethal Miles Benjamin, who ended up scoring a hat trick in the encounter.

The first 20 minutes would see the Saxons run rampant and the Eagles were up against it to the tune of 33-3 at halftime.

“The game got away from us early on and we were struggling early. On some occasions we held onto the ball and did some good things,” said O’Sullivan.

“It was a very big ask of our team to go against the fully professional England Saxons side and a lot of our problems were of our own making.”

The coach continued to say that mistakes and turnovers were compounded by the Saxons’ speedy backs and defensive lapses by the Eagles.

The scrums were also an issue for the Eagles and the Saxons were able to drive the American forwards back, compromising the USA’s attacking platform when awarded scrums.

Even under immense Saxons pressure and a unfavorable score line, the Eagles kept fighting as Scott LaValla pushed over for a try in the 78th minute after the USA forwards built on strong phase play to get the Saxons back pedaling.

Colin Hawley and John van der Giessen played well for the Eagles and were very gritty in their defense. Van der Giessen was also very good in the lineouts and was able to provide a threat in the air to that set piece. Roland Suniula did a good job at flyhalf off the bench and got the Eagles moving forward late in the game.

Tonga is up next for the Eagles, which is a full test match and a ranking test so fans can expect to see a very different Eagles team on Wednesday as the talents of several seasoned internationals will be called on.

Final Score England Saxons 87 (33)USA 8 (3)


England Saxons
Tries: Benjamin 3, Brown 2, Young, Johnson, Twelvetrees, Trinder, Sharples, Kitchener, Hodgson
Conversions: Clegg 11

Tries: Lavalla
Penalties: Enosa


England Saxons: M Brown (Harlequins); T Ojo (London Irish), H Trinder (Gloucester), B Twelvetrees (Leicester), M Benjamin (Worcester); R Clegg (Harlequins), M Young(Newcastle); M Mullan (Worcester), J Gray (Harlequins), M Stevens (Saracens), M Botha (Saracens), D Attwood (Gloucester), J Gaskell (Sale), T Johnson (Exeter), J Crane (Leicester, capt).

Replacements: D Paice (London Irish), K Brookes (Newcastle), G Kitchener (Worcester), J Gibson (London Irish), P Hodgson (London Irish), A Goode (Saracens), C Sharples (Gloucester Rugby).

To follow.

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