Planet Rugby

England do enough against Samoa

20th November 2010 12:50

Share:

England v Samoa Shontayne Hape

Physical affair: Shontayne Hape

England survived an early second-half scare to record a 26-13 victory over a spirited Samoan outfit at Twickenham.

Martin Johnson's side were trailing 6-8 in the 42nd minute after Sale full-back Paul Williams had caught the Red Rose napping. But from there, the home side clicked into gear as scores from Matt Banahan and Tom Croft won it.

It was not a thing of beauty though and this week there were no wonder tries at HQ.

Yet against a steel-like Samoan defence Johnson's side did what they had to do.

They won, professionally and clinically. When we remember how difficult victories came just twelve months ago that is another measure of progress.

Indeed, the really encouraging thing was that England tried to continue from where they left off against Australia.

They tried to play with width and adventure. They used the pace of Ben Foden and Chris Ashton and the superb Mark Cueto, who has now gone sixteen matches without scoring a try for England in what is one of rugby's great mysteries.

Cueto again epitomised everything Johnson's team are striving to become. Quick to run, swift to see the gap. Daring.

The problem was that whereas against Australia everything came off in a match which was near perfect technically, against Samoa too often they were sloppy and imprecise in their passing and kicking.

Give Samoa credit. They had lost by only 10 points to Ireland last weekend. They were no pushovers. In fact, they play a brand of rugby which is as physical as it is entertaining.

It is full of quick thinking and enterprising handling and it rocked England, especially in the early exchanges.

Where last weekend England had carved great holes in Australia's defence almost from the first whistle this time they met men in blue who have added organisation to their undoubted flair.

Men who frustrated their progress with crushing tackles, especially London Irish centre Seilala Mapusua. It is easy in such circumstances to try too hard and England were guilty of that in the first half.

Toby Flood, so imperious against Australia, threw too many long, looping passes which struggled to reach their destination.

Foden failed to get the ball down in the corner when it appeared he must score and Ashton burst through and over the whitewash only to be recalled for a forward pass.

The action, however, was never fluent, unless we count one almighty slugging match mid-way through the half which saw more punches thrown than Audley Harrison has managed in an entire career.

Partly, the erratic nature of the skirmish was down to the domination of England's scrummage.

Samoa, who had performed so creditably against Ireland's pack, could not cope with England's front row of Andrew Sheridan, David Wilson and Dylan Hartley. There was too much weight, too much technique coming their way and time and again they buckled.

It did not make for pretty viewing, even if England did spurn penalty after penalty in favour of another push-fest.

The stats board, however, told the story. In that first half Samoa made 77 tackles against 17 from England. Total domination from England, just the execution was lacking.

It meant the teams went in with England leading 6-3, courtesy of two tries from Flood and one from Samoa full-back Paul Williams.

England could hardly have started the second half in worse fashion, sluggishly allowing Williams to cruise over for the first touchdown after 40 seconds.

It was the first try of Williams' career and the first by Samoa at Twickenham. And they deserved it.

The Twickenham faithful might have been a little worried at that point, although there was no hint of panic down on the pitch.

If anything that is the virtue of Johnson's side. They have belief in their character as well as their ability.

And they produced the try of the match when Shontayne Hape made the break, fed Ashton and there was Banahan to secure the touchdown. Croft added another to give the scoreline a flattering look.

It was a long way from perfect, especially as Gavin Williams crossed for a late try for Samoa. But it was a reasonably comfortable victory. One which provides another brick in Johnson's rebuilding programme.

Man-of-the-match: Despite being on the losing team, we had to go for Samoa full-back Paul Williams, who contributed a try and a penalty. Extremely effective in attack and painfully solid in defence. Spot on, as was an in-form Mark Cueto on the left wing for England.

Moment-of-the-match: 'Moments' ... Andrew Sheridan's rampaging runs through the heart of the Samoan defence. His comeback to international rugby following injury has been a swift one, but my has it been impressive.

Villain-of-the-match: Answers on a postcard. Little really to speak of.

The scorers:

For England:
Tries: Banahan, Croft
Con: Flood 2
Pen: Flood 3

For Samoa:
Tries: P Williams, G Williams
Pen: P Williams

England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nick Easter (c), 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 James Haskell, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Steve Thompson, 17 Dan Cole, 18 Dave Attwood, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Danny Care, 21 Charlie Hodgson, 22 Delon Armitage.

Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 David Lemi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Seilala Mapasua, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tasesa Lavea, 9 Kahn Fotualii, 8 George Stowers, 7 Manaia Salavea, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Filipo Levi, 4 Kane Thompson, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Mahonri Schwalger (c), 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Census Johnston, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Afa Aiono, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Jamie Helleur, 22 Gavin Williams.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Alan Lewis (Ireland), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
Television match official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Preview
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs WaspsExeter vs Wasps Preview
London Irish vs BathLondon Irish vs Bath Preview
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Preview
Scotland vs TongaScotland vs Tonga Preview
Ireland vs AustraliaIreland vs Australia Preview
Wales vs New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Preview
England vs SamoaEngland vs Samoa Preview
France vs ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Dragons vs MunsterDragons vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Preview
Connacht vs ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
London Welsh 9 - 18 Gloucester
Leicester 29 - 13 Sale SharksLeicester vs Sale Sharks Report
More LV= Cup results
International Match
Saturday , November 8
Italy 24 - 13 SamoaItaly vs Samoa Report
Wales 28 - 33 AustraliaWales vs Australia Report
England 21 - 24 New ZealandEngland vs New Zealand Report
Georgia 9 - 23 TongaGeorgia vs Tonga Report
Ireland 29 - 15 South AfricaIreland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720