England 43-29 USA: Eddie Jones’ men in a flat performance despite a seven-try win which introduced 12 debutants, with Joe Cokanasiga, Marcus Smith and Harry Randall on the scoresheet
- Jones spoke before the match about making his pack ‘feared around the world’
- That failed to materialise against a resolute American side on Independence Day
- Moreover, a young, dynamic and exciting backline failed to spark into life fully
An England team packed with sparkle failed to light up many fireworks at Twickenham – easily beating the USA in a performance that barely ignited.
They won easily and scored seven tries – two for Joe Cokanasiga, and one each for Sam Underhill, Ollie Lawrence, Jamie Blamire, Marcus Smith and Harry Randall – but in conceding four and struggling for continuity in defence, attack or at the set-piece it was a fairly flat effort.
England fans desperate to see young stars let loose, with 12 of them making debuts, saw glimpses that were all too brief.
England’s Eddie Jones talked of making his pack ‘feared around the world’ before USA game
But that failed to materialise against a resolute USA despite a 43-29 win for his young charges
ENGLAND: Steward 8; Cokanasiga 7, Slade 5, Lawrence 6.5 (Robson 34, 6), Malins 7 (Umaga 9, 5); Smith 6.5, Randall 7; Genge 5.5 (Obano 58, 6), Langdon 6 (Blamire 48, 6), Heyes 5 (Davison 55, 6), McNally 6 (T Hill 48, 6), Ewels 6, Ludlow 6.5 (Ludlam 54, 6), Underhill 7.5, Chick 6 (B Curry 54, 6).
USA: Brache (Dyer 34); Te’o, Campbell, Whiting, Kruse; Carty, de Haas (Baska 71); Ainu’u (Harmon 75), Sosene-Feagai (Taufete’e 48) Mullen (Waldren 48), Peterson, Civetta (Brakeley 51), Fa’anana-Schultz (Wooching 51), Hattingh, Dolan (Germishuys 68).
The Americans though, having not played since the 2019 World Cup, will be rightly proud of their Independence Day afternoon, never wilting and playing right to the last.
It was classic Jones to pick one of the most exciting, young and dynamic backlines he could, then make this game all about pack dominance.
In the week he spoke of wanting ‘to get the mantle back’ of being a ‘pack that’s feared around the world’ having failed to do that recently.
And so keen was he to assert that power up front against the mediocre Americans that he picked six forwards on the bench, just two backs, adding he even toyed with going with a seven-one split.
It was just as well he did not, as in the first half the back-line became a mishmash mess – with two unfortunate injuries meaning England had Dan Robson and Jacob Umaga both out of position, the Wasps half-backs at wing and centre rather than their usual positions at scrum-half and fly-half respectively.
That was because Max Malins hurt his shoulder setting up a fine try for Underhill, whacked into touch when catching Smith’s kick-off after a USA penalty, and offloading inside.
So that was him off after nine minutes, and then Lawrence – moved to the wing when Malins went – was next.
He scored a strong try down the left, Mickey Te’o ripping Lawrence’s shorts off to expose his backside as he touched down, then later blind-sided full-back Marcel Brache and seemed to knock himself out.
Between the comings and goings Cokanasiga enjoyed a welcome return to try-scoring form.
Wing Joe Cokanasiga (left) enjoyed a welcome return to try-scoring form, dotting down twice
His last Test came against the States too, at the 2019 World Cup when he was never really fit, and here he also scored twice – one an easy touch-down after a good chip from the classy Freddie Steward, and then on the end of a fizzed flat ball from Smith to power in for his second and eighth in 10 Tests.
The attempt to batter the Americans up front was not altogether successful – after half-time the visitors scored a driving maul try from Jamason Fa’anana Schultz and England’s scrum never settled all afternoon.
England did cap 12 new players, the most for the national side since the first game after World War Two in 1947, and replacement hooker Blamire scored with his second touch.
His first saw his lineout throw nicked, but then he charged down scrum-half Ruben de Haas and gathered to score.
Bristol scrum-half Harry Randall (above) looked lively at times and scored after a fine dummy
But US No 8 Cam Dolan repeated Blamire’s trick on Randall and had a charge-down try of his own as England muddled through, learning little about their kids.
Randall sniped off the back of a scrum and then flicked up to Smith, which woke up the 10,000 fans and saw the Quin roar and punch the air before missing a third conversion.
Then Randall himself showed at last some individuality, nipping through to score after selling a huge dummy, but then Hanco Germishuys went over as the rain came down,
Lewis Ludlam had a try chalked off when Cokanasiga hit Te’o high in the build-up and, far from fading, the Americans scored again – Christian Dyer their fourth to cross as England fizzled out completely.
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