Martin Johnson enjoyed his first victory as England manager as England defeated the Pacific Islanders 39-13 at Twickenham. The win will have pleased Johnson as the Pacific Islanders were made up of players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, all of whom had impressive World cups last year in France. In addition to this they boast a lot of UK based players in both the Guiness premiership and Magners league.
London Wasps fly half Danny Cipriani eventually got the scoreboard ticking after 10 minutes with a simple penalty (wearing his Adidas Powerswerve Rugby boots). But it was the try which followed four minutes later which gave a glimpse of the power England have under the engine.
Nippy work from Care set up the platform for the ball to fizz across the line, Cipriani, Flutey and Armitage all involved before Armitage flipped an intelligent reverse pass over his shoulder for Sackey (wearing his Puma V1-08 Rugby Boots) to run in unopposed.
Simple rugby, precisely executed, with impressive pace and no little flair. It brought barely a flicker from Johnson up in the stands, although those famous eyebrows did narrow markedly two minutes later when Cipriani’s kick was charged down by Fiji’s Seru Rabeni (Leicester Tigers) who gathered the ball and dived over the England line.
Not Cipriani’s finest moment, but then genius rarely comes without the occasional flaw. Another one followed immediately when Cipriani’s restart went straight into touch. At that stage it was a curate’s egg of an England performance. Promising in parts, error strewn at times. Lacking the dominance of old. Frustrating.
No wonder prop Andrew Sheridan (wearing his Adidas flanker wide fit rugby boots) was warned for swearing by referee George Clancy. But gradually it improved. Another Cipriani penalty was converted before the back line again showed its fleetness of foot, this time Harlequins wing Monye rounding the defence on the outside to give the supporting Cipriani the easiest of run-ins for his first England try.
The dive was ostentatious. But that is Cipriani. Kennedy and hooker Mears, players more of the bread-and-butter variety, added further tries and more basic celebrations to give the scoreline a deserving look of authority.
The one sour note came late on when Fiji number six Semisi Naevo received a yellow card for a nasty high tackle on Sackey as the Wasps wing went over for his second try. Thankfully, Sackey emerged with senses intact. As for England there was a genuine sense of sparkle and rejuvenation which was encouraging.
The England Rugby Team were made up of:
Armitage; Sackey, Noon, Flutey, Monye; Cipriani (Flood 76), Care (Ellis 62); Sheridan, Mears (Hartley 76), Stevens (Vickery 59), Borthwick (capt), Kennedy (Palmer 56), Croft, Rees (Lipman 62) Easter (Haskell 69)
Tries were scored by: Sackey 2, Cipriani, Kennedy, Mears Cons Cipriani 4 Pens Cipriani 2
The Pacific Islands Rugby Team were made up of:
Ratuvou; Tagicakibau, Rabeni (Taione 56), Mapusua, Delasau; Hola (Bai 47), Rauluni (capt) (Martens 73), Va’a (Johnston 72), Lutui (Koto 69), Johnston (Pulu 56), Levi (Pole 62), Leawere, Naevo, Latu, Maka (Stowers 17)
Tries were scored by Rabeni Con Hola Pens Hola, Bai
Referee G Clancy (Ireland)
Do you think that Delon Armitage is the new England Rugby Fullback after Saturday’s man of the match performance?