England tune up for tour with Barbarians win
England tuned up for their tour of Australia and New Zealand with a
confidence-boosting 36-26 win against the Barbarians at Twickenham on
James Haskell, Shontayne Hape, Ben Foden and Mike Tindall all touched
down as England made the most of some generous defending to cruise to
Toulon-bound winger Paul Sackey scored a try in each half for the
Barbarians and replacements David Smith and Census Johnson rumbled over
to give the scoreline an air of respectability.
England head off on Monday for a five-match tour that includes two
Tests against the Wallabies, two meetings with the Australian Barbarians
and a clash with the New Zealand Maori.
All three teams will pose a far sterner test than the Barbarians.
The match did at least give England manager Martin Johnson a chance
to run the rule over a clutch of returning players and new faces before
the tour starts in earnest a week on Tuesday. Charlie Hodgson, back
after two years in the international wilderness, made a lively
contribution at fly-half and finished with 10 points before a bloody
nose forced him off, while the back row of Nick Easter, Delon Armitage
and Haskell were all prominent.
Scrum-half Danny Care responded well to the gauntlet that Ben Youngs
threw down with his performance for Leicester in Saturdaysí Premiership
England made countless linebreaks and Mark Cueto was a constant
danger with scything runs from deep but there remain question marks over
Hape at inside centre.
England kept the pressure on with good hands from Foden and a Steve
Thompson charge before the Barbarians were penalised for offside and
this time Hodgson converted.
The Sale fly-half showed good strength to wriggle out of two tackles
on half-way before offloading for Dave Attwood to rampage forward as
England began to tick. Hodgson slotted a second penalty before Haskell
showed some clever footwork to skip away from Sackey and Ross Skeate,
who collided in pantomime fashion as the Stade Francais flanker touched
England extended their lead to 20-0 when Hape stepped through a giant
gap between Fritz and Ben Kay to score on his senior debut. Finally the
Barbarians offered something worth cheering as Jean-Baptiste Elissalde,
a member of Toulouseís European Cup-winning team, brilliantly collected
his own chip and sent Sackey over for the try.
Sackey fended Hodgson off on his way through and the England fly-half
was forced to make way for Olly Barkley.
The Barbarians began to play as if they were the Harlem Globetrotters
but Englandís response was instant as Easter swooped on a loose ball.
The captain galloped over half-way before Thompson slung the pass
wide for Foden, who raced in for Englandís third try and a 25-7
The Barbariansí saloon-door defending continued after the break as
Tindall slipped Fritzís tackle and sailed untouched through a gaping
midfield hole to touch down under the posts.
Both sides began to ring the changes and the Barbarians began to play
more direct rugby and profited to the tune of three second-half tries.
Smith crashed over in the 56th minute after a bulldozing run before
Johnson, the giant Samoan prop who gave Tim Payne a tough afternoon in
the scrum, drove over for the Barbariansí third.
Sackeyís second try was a thing of beauty as Cedric Heyman dummied a
flick behind his back and stayed in field long enough to supply the
Barkley rounded off the day with a penalty shot at goal in the last
minute, a decision which was rightly greeted with derision by the