January 30, 2009
England Saxons 66 Portugal 0
Edgeley Park, Stockport
England's young guns ran in an impressive 10 tries to complete a convincing 66-0 victory over Portugal at Edgeley Park tonight.
There were two tries apiece for Leicester Tigers pair Harry Ellis and Tom Varndell and Saracens centre Adam Powell, with Noah Cato (also Saracens), Dom Waldouck (London Wasps) and Matt Smith and Jordan Crane (both Tigers) also finding the line.
England's young side earned the praise of Head Coach Stuart Lancaster who said after the match, "We played some really good rugby and I'm delighted for the boys.
Portugal put a lot of pressure on us in the opening stages and we struggled to get our composure and tempo but when we adjusted and got some depth, things started to come and we scored some great individual tries."
Although he didn't get on the scoresheet, Lancaster singled out Bath Rugby full back Nick Abendanon for his clinical all round performance that earned him Sky's man of the match award. "Nick was fantastic, he looked extremely sharp and was a constant threat with ball in hand."
After almost opening the scoring from the kick off, the Saxons struggled to break through the determined Portuguese defence, despite dominating the opening exchanges.
But their break came at the end of the first quarter. Shortly after the visitors lost their influential No 8, Vasco Uva, who captained the team during the 2007 World Cup, England fly half Harry Ellis opened the scoring, scooting over from the base of a driven scrum. Bristol Rugby fly half Ed Barnes celebrated his Saxons debut with the first of four conversions to take the score to 7-0.
Minutes later, Powell added his first and, having set the score up with a neat grubber kick, Barnes added the extras.
On the half hour, England extended their lead thanks to Abendanon's perfect cross field open play kick and a kind bounce that allowed Varndell to touch down in the left corner. With Portugal captain Joao Correia in the sin bin, Ellis added a second in similar fashion to his first, before Cato finished off the finest try of the evening, an excellent effort involving some great interlinking between forwards and backs. Barnes' conversions took England's half time lead to 33-0.
But after the break, Phil Dowson's men went off the boil slightly and it was another 15 minutes before the scoring continued. With one Wasps hooker replacing another and Saracens young playmaker Alex Goode taking over from Barnes, England finally took their opportunity, this time through Dom Waldouck, with Goode adding the extras.
Having secured a 40-point cushion, a flurry of substitutions followed and it was Waldouck's replacement, Tiger Matt Smith who was next to touch down, finding the try line with his first touch of the ball.
As the game neared its conclusion there were further tries for Varndell and his Leicester team mate Jordan Crane, playing at second row for the first time since representing England under 18s, before Goode's conversion of Powell's second try - England's 10th - took the final score to 66-0.
England Saxons will now face Ireland A at Donnybrook in a week's time. Despite the flattering scoreline, captain Phil Dowson said there is still plenty to work to be done. "Overall it was a good performance but we tried to do a bit too much too early and things got scrappy at times."
Assistant Coach Paul Hull added, "Parts of our game came together nicely but understandably after a matter of days together, there were patches where things didn't run quite so smoothly.
"But you've got to hand it to Portugal, they never gave up but the individual brilliance of several of our players was great to see."
The squad to face Ireland A will be named on Monday.
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
Sin binned: None
Portugal: Pedro Cabral, Aderito Esteves, Diogo (David) Mateus, Franciso Mira, Gon�alo Foro, Duarte C.Pinto, Jos� Pinto, Jorge Segurado, Jo�o Correia, Juan Murr�, Juan Severino, Gon�alo Uva, Eduardo Acosta, Salvador Palha, Vasco Uva
Replacements: 16. Jo�o 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)