Tuesday, June 24, 2008
After a very forgettable week for English rugby union, the country's second-string team at least provided a positive ending by beating Scotland A in Chicago to claim a second consecutive Churchill Cup title, their fourth in six years.
While attention had been squarely focused across the Pacific just hours earlier as the senior squad completed a tour of New Zealand that was disastrous in all respects, Steve Bates' Saxons rounded off their campaign in emphatic style with 20 unanswered points in the latter stages of the second half on Saturday night.
Tries for Nick Abendanon, Jordan Crane and Ugo Monye saw England pull clear of a Scotland second-string that had threatened an upset when they led midway through the second half. Ryan Lamb, the Gloucester fly-half, kicked 16 points for the Saxons, shading his personal duel with the Scots' No10, Gordon Ross of Saracens, who slotted 14 points.
"This squad has been an absolute pleasure to work with," said Bates, the Saxons head coach. "By winning the tournament we've achieved what we set out to do and played some great rugby.
"The Scots put in a very competitive performance and it took longer than we expected to break them down. But we stuck to our guns well and although it was a pretty even game for about an hour, we stepped it up after that."
Note: With thanks to the Guardian.
England Saxons off to a good start at the Churchill Cup
Tom Croft 60m winning try - Churchill Cup 2007