Joe Cokanasiga and Marcus Smith help England win but USA fight to the end | Rugby federation
There were passing scores for England’s bright youngsters in a seven-try win over the United States, but not much more than that. Joe Cokanasiga marked his first appearance since the World Cup with two tries and there were some impressive individual performances among the new faces, but there were also four tries against and ultimately the feeling that there is a lot of room. for improvement.
It wasn’t until a few glimpses that it threatened to be the kind of sparkling all-court performance the 10,000 entrants had wanted to see, and although the England squad was raw, the United States did not. not played since the World Cup, only met at the start of the week and was missing their best player due to injury. In this context, England’s performance was acceptable rather than exceptional.
Jones selected eight debutants in his starting XV and four more from the bench, meaning England have handed out the most caps in a single game since 1947. He urged them all to seize their opportunity, to s’ appropriating the jersey, and although he stretched it out to say that one of them did just that, Freddie Steward looked particularly confident at the back, whenever Marcus Smith was on the ball, there was a crackle of anticipation and Harry Randall looked sharp at the scrum-half at times. There was a lot of grunting up front and the hope must be that there is a smoother look from the team next week against Canada.
England had four half-time tries, including the first Test-level scores for Sam Underhill and Ollie Lawrence. The two from Cokanasiga were equally important – in their first appearance for England since these two teams met at the 2019 World Cup. But there was a lingering degree of rust in England – at one point, players could be heard complaining that they had scrambled the preset moves together.
The United States opened the scoring with a Luke Carty penalty at the halfway line but as soon as Smith restarted England had their first try. Max Malins lined the ball off on the left and rushed to the corner. He didn’t quite have the pace to reach the line but had the wherewithal to find Underhill for support. The openside flanker was arguably England’s most industrious player, reminding Jones of what his team sorely missed in the Six Nations.
Malins injured his arm in preparation for this test and was forced to quit a few minutes later. With Jones opting for a 6-2 split off the bench, it forced a massive reshuffle, with Lawrence moved to the left wing and Jacob Umaga coming in center on the inside. This denied Jones the chance to take a closer look at Lawrence and Henry Slade together in midfield – it was his go-to duo at the start of the Six Nations – but the Worcester man was on hand to finish on the left afterwards a nice movement from right to left.
Cokanasiga’s first came from a quick penalty taken by Randall, the second from a delicious delayed pass from Smith, albeit against a defense that, at this point, was creaking. England then lost Lawrence before the break after a nasty head-to-head clash with USA full-back Marcel Brache, forcing Jones to another change, with Dan Robson the next to be deployed out of position on the wing.
The United States started best in the second half and Jones will not be happy with how easily England opponents pushed their maul over the line – Jamason Fa’anana-Shultz allowed the visitors. A flurry of substitutes from both sides inevitably disrupted the flow of the game, but one of them, Newcastle hooker Jamie Blamire, made his England debut barely a minute after coming on the scene. loaded United States scrum half Ruben de Haas and stretched.
To their credit, the United States stood their ground and responded in kind when Cam Dolan charged Randall and pointed the ball for his team’s second before Smith’s full-yard try caused the greatest joy of the day. Randall then scored a nice individual try with a dummy to open the gap, but two quick tries late for the United States – one a maul at the wheel with Hanco Germishuys, the other a counterattack finished by Christian Dyer – left Jones a lot to think about.