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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

England impress with big midweek win against the Crusaders

England picked up their first win on tour as they beat the Crusaders 38-7 this morning. The hosts scored their solitary try through replacement Matt Todd, while England scored six as they showed their strength in depth ahead of the third Test.

News of Owen Farrell's medial ligament knee strain this morning meant that a starting spot in the third Test against the All Blacks is up for grabs. Danny Cipriani made a claim for it with a solid 50 minutes against the former Super Rugby champions.

With the score at 26-7 at halftime, the game was pretty much over but the England XV added another two tries through Anthony Watson and Chris Pennell, adding to first half efforts from Joe Gray, Ben Foden, Brad Barritt and Alex Goode. Foden's in particular was very neatly taken. 

Injured Farrell will remain with the squad for further treatment but coach Stuart Lancaster has said that he'll narrow down the squad over the 24 hours following the Crusaders game.

"The knee has been scanned and there is a strain there. It's disappointing for Owen as he was desperate to play in the final Test but such is his character that he is already working on his rehab and still contributing to the tour. Fortunately we have three other fly halves to call on."

While the Crusaders were missing some of their All Black stars, it was an impressive run out for an England squad that are testing new combinations and are looking well placed for the home Rugby World Cup next year. Farrell's injury may yet be a blessing in disguise.

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