Preview: Churchill Cup, Round Three

Date published: June 11 2011

England Saxons have made four changes to their starting line-up for Sunday's Churchill Cup clash with Tonga at Kingsholm.

England Saxons have made four changes to their starting line-up for Sunday's Churchill Cup clash with Tonga at Kingsholm.

Full-back Alex Goode (Saracens), wing Charlie Sharples (Gloucester), scrum-half Paul Hodgson and hooker David Paice (both London Irish) come into the side.

They take over from Mike Brown (Harlequins), Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors), Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons) and Joe Gray (Harlequins) for a match that will determine who meets Canada in the Churchill Cup final at Worcester on June 18.

The Saxons set a competition record with their 87-8 win over the USA last weekend but tournament newcomers Tonga – who got within a score of South Africa at the 2007 World Cup – represent a difficult test. The Islanders beat the USA 44-13 at Esher on Wednesday with wing Viliami Iongi scoring four tries.

“We've rotated our squad for this game to give other players opportunities to demonstrate their abilities as we see the tournament very much about development as well as being a competition in its own right,” said Head coach Stuart Lancaster.

“A lot of players really put their hand up last week. It's tough on the likes of Miles Benjamin who misses out this time but I am sure he will get further opportunities during the final games of the competition.

“Tonga had a very good win against what was probably a stronger USA side than the one we faced and we're very aware of the physicality they'll bring on Sunday.

“They played with good shape in attack and defence against the USA. For us it's important that we improve our execution, particularly in the first half, and that this young England Saxons side measures up to the physical challenge.”

England Saxons:15 Alex Goode 14 Charlie Sharples , 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Jordan Crane(c), 7 Tom Johnson, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Mouritz Botha , 3 Matt Stevens, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Graham Kitchener, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Micky Young, 21 Jordan Turner-Hall, 22 Mike Brown.

Tonga: tbc

Date: Sunday June 12,
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 14.30 BST

Russia face Italy 'A' in Sunday's second fixture with both sides looking to baounce back from defeat to Canada

Soon to be Saint Vasily Artemyev insists that control will determine Russia's performance on Sunday.
The Russians led Canada 18-15 at half time in Wednesday's game at Esher Rugby, but conceeded nineteen second half points to go down 18-34.

“It was disappointing to lose on Wednesday,” said Artemyev.

“The result didn't quite demonstrate what the game consisted of. The initial emotion was frustration but then afterwards, when we got together and looked back at the game, we saw that we were in control for most of it and that was a big positive form previous games, so we'll take that and move on.
“We can definitely be in more control for the entire game and follow the lead of our game makers, so if we can be a bit more composed and keep out cool throughout the full eighty minutes, I think we can eliminate those mistakes.”
Commenting on Russia's opposition Italy A, who are chasing their first Churchill Cup win after an opening day slump against Canada, the winger was clear that a physical encounter was bound to be on the cards:
“We've seen they're very physical, with a good midfield including some strong runners.” added Artemyev.
“They're very strong upfront and obviously have some international players in the squad so it's definitely going to be a physical encounter with a good bit of kicking too.”

Italy A: R. Trevisan, G. Toniolatti, A. Pratichetti, A. Pratichetti, M. Sepe; R. Bocchino, T.Tebaldi; A. De Marchi, T. D'Aspice, F. Staibano, J. Furno, V. Bernabo (C), F.Minto, M. Bergamasco, M. Vosawai Reps: A. Manici, M. Aguero, D. Chistolini, M. Bortolami, D. Gerber, G. Venditti, N. Belardo
Russia: I. Klyuchnikov; V. Artemyev, M. Babaev, S. Trishin, R. Yagudin; Y. Kushnarev, A. Bykanov; G. Tsnobiladze, V. Tsnobiladze, A. Chernyshev, A. Panasenko, D. Antonov, V. Gresev, M. Sidorov, V. Grachev (C) Reps: V. Korshunov, A. Travkin, I.Prishchepenko, A. Garbuzov, A. Shakirov, A. Ryabov, I. Galinovsky

Date: Sunday June 12,
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 17.00 BST