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Last Updated: Friday, 2 February 2007, 22:09 GMT
England Saxons 34-5 Italy A
Mike Brown in action for the England Saxons against Italy A
Brown was rewarded with two tries
England Saxons shook off some early rustiness to subdue Italy A with five tries at Exeter's Sandy Park Stadium.

Bath wing Nick Abendanon and Harlequins full-back Mike Brown both crossed as the hosts built a 13-0 interval lead.

Sale lock Dean Schofield barged over early on the resumption before Italy replacement Fabio Staibano charged down Shane Geraghty's clearance to score.

Brown grabbed his second try and hooker Dylan Hartley also scored late on, but the final scoreline flattered England.

Few players advanced their cases for promotion to the senior squad, with Bristol scrum-half Shaun Perry one of the few to impress.

He was omitted from the 22 to face Scotland in favour of Harry Ellis and Peter Richards, although may have done enough to earn a recall on only his second outing since suffering a rib injury before Christmas.

"(The senior squad management) did say I needed to improve my match fitness, and that is what I am working on," he said afterwards. "What more can I do?"

England struggled in a scoreless opening quarter as the dogged Italians slowed the game down and frustrated the hosts.

Geraghty, who failed to impress, missed the first of four first-half kicks at goal early on and a second after 22 minutes, but nailed a penalty at the third attempt to open the scoring.

England had started to bring their impressive back three into play, and were rewarded with a superb try in the 28th minute.

Perry created it with a dart off a scrum and a pass behind his back to wing David Strettle, who motored past four defenders.

When he was held up, the ball was swiftly shipped along the line for left wing Abendanon to cross in the corner.

He might have had a second after Strettle stepped inside two defenders on another incisive run, but his pass eluded the Bath flier.

Italy lost flanker and captain David Dal Maso to the sin-bin five mintes before the interval, and the Saxons profited with a second try.

Perry was again the catalyst, before Olly Barkley's cute pass sent Brown away to finish strongly.

Geraghty was unable to convert for a second time, but was on the mark two minutes after the resumption after Schofield barged his way over through three would-be defenders.

When Staibano charged down Geraghty's kick just before the hour, Italy threatened to derail England's momentum.

But a flurry of replacements, including rugby league convert Chev Walker, had the required impact and another strong Brown finish and Hartley's perseverance embellished the winning margin.

The Saxons also take on Ireland A in Belfast next week.

  • England's Under-20 side launched their Six Nations campaign with a comfortable 31-5 victory over Scotland at the Recreation Ground in Bath.

    The England players, who spent part of their preparations this week working with the senior Test squad at Bath University, registered five tries.

    David Tait (two), Tom Parker, Matt Cox and Hugo Ellis claimed touchdowns, while Frankie Neale slotted three conversions.


    England Saxons team: M Brown (Harlequins); D Strettle (Harlequins), J Noon (Newcastle, capt), O Barkley (Bath), N Abendanon (Bath); S Geraghty (London Irish), S Perry (Bristol); N Wood (Gloucester), A Titterrell (Sale Sharks), S Turner (Sale Sharks), D Schofield (Sale Sharks), A Brown (Gloucester), J Haskell (Wasps), J Scaysbrook (Bath), J Crane (Leicester).
    Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), T Mercey (Saracens), C Jones (Sale Sharks), N Easter (Harlequins), R Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks), C Walker (Bath), T Varndell (Leicester).

    Italy A: Cagnoni, Pratichetti, Pozzebon, Galante, De Jager, Orquera, Mazzantini, Aguero, Ghiraldini, Cittadini, Reato, Del Fava, Dal Maso, Birchall, Padro.
    Replacements: Staibano, Ferraro, Vella, Barbieri, Marcato, Leonardi, Nitoglia.

    England Under-20s team: Frankie Neale (Saracens); Ollie Dodge (Leicester), Adam Thompstone (Harlequins), Adam Powell (Saracens), Selorm Kuadey (Sale), Seb Jewel (Harlequins), Danny Care (capt, Harlequins); Dan Cole (Leicester), Matt Mullan (Worcester), Jack Forster (Gloucester), Dave Attwood (Bristol), Phil Hoy (Northampton), Alex Shaw (Leicester), Chevvy Pennycook (Bristol), David Tait (Sale).
    Replacements: Ross McMillan (Gloucester), Charlie Beech (Northampton), Hugo Ellis (Wasps), Matt Cox (Worcester), Tom Parker (London Irish), Charlie Gower (London Irish), James Tirrell (both Saracens).




    SEE ALSO
    Hill & Cohen out of Saxons squad
    25 Jan 07 |  English
    Hill battles back
    29 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union


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