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Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Sunday, 1 June 2008 16:46 UK

England 17-14 Barbarians

England (10) 17
Tries: Easter, Tait Cons: Flood, Brown Pens: Flood

Barbarians (0) 14
Tries: Mapusua, Thomas Cons: Gomarsall, Jackson

By James Standley

Seilala Mapusua (left) is tackled by England's Mathew Tait
Mapusua (left) and Tait both claimed tries on Sunday

A second-string England side limped to an unconvincing victory over the Barbarians at Twickenham.

Nick Easter's try and a penalty and conversion from Toby Flood gave England a 10-0 lead at the break after a poor first half.

Seilala Mapusua got the Barbarians back in the game with an interception try.

But Mathew Tait scored a converted try to ensure England made it across the finishing line, with Gareth Thomas claiming a late Baa-Baas consolation.

It was nominally the first game of Martin Johnson's reign as England boss, although he will not take full control until after the summer tour to New Zealand, but England struggled to impress.

Barbarians matches are traditionally open encounters but the first half of Sunday's game was a very scrappy affair.


Both sides struggled to hold onto the ball and the Barbarians were further undermined by their total inability to win their own line-outs.

London Irish second row Nick Kennedy and Sale counterpart Chris Jones took the invitational side to the cleaners and prevented them from getting any momentum.

The Baa-Baas could have taken an early lead but former England scrum-half Andy Gomarsall, not a front-line marksman for his club Harlequins but handed kicking duties for the day, missed a fairly simple penalty.

When Flood was given a similar chance the Leicester-bound centre duly obliged to edge England into an early lead and he was on target with the conversion after 14 minutes when Easter, captain for the day, bullied his way over from short range.

The rest of the half was an almost total non-event as both sides coughed up possession with alarming frequency, and to make matters worse for England they lost fly-half Charlie Hodgson after a clash of heads with former All Blacks flanker Jerry Collins.

Charlie Hodgson walks off with blood pouring from his face at Twickenham
Hodgson had to have 13 stitches in a nasty cut to his face

Hodgson required 13 stitches in a nasty cut to his cheekbone, and England introduced the versatile Peter Richards to the fray as his replacement.

The second half was something of an improvement on the first, with London Irish's Samoan centre Mapusua sparking into life.

He intercepted a Jones pass to scamper over under the posts, with Gomarsall converting, and minutes later launched a superb counter-attack from inside his own 22, although it ultimately came to nothing.

The Barbarians introduced former South Africa prop Cobus Visagie as a replacement and he set about butchering the England scrum, but it was the hosts who had the next chance to score some points.

Flood was forced off with blood pouring from his nose following a high shot from South African number eight Pedrie Wannenburg but Quins full-back Mike Brown missed the resulting penalty.

The game needed a moment of inspiration and new Sale signing Tait provided it as he stepped inside Mapusua and cruised over, leaving Brown to casually add the extras with a drop-goal.

The Barbarians enjoyed the upper hand in the closing stages and Thomas scored a well-worked try, but England held on in what was a frustrating day at Twickenham.

England: M Brown (Harlequins); T Ojo (London Irish), M Tait (Newcastle), T Flood (Newcastle), D Strettle (Harlequins); C Hodgson (Sale), R Wigglesworth (Sale); N Lloyd (Saracens), D Paice (London Irish), J Hobson (Bristol), C Jones (Sale Sharks), N Kennedy (London Irish), L Narraway (Gloucester), W Skinner (Harlequins), N Easter (Harlequins, capt).
Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Newcastle), S Hooper (Leeds), T Guest (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), P Richards (London Irish), U Monye (Harlequins).

Barbarians: T Delport (Worcester); G Thomas (Cardiff Blues), M Turinui (Queensland), S Mapusua (London Irish), I Balshaw (Gloucester); S Larkham (unattached), A Gomarsall (Harlequins); F Pucciariello (Munster), M Regan (Bristol, capt), C Visagie (Saracens), K Chesney (Saracens), J Harrison (Ulster), J Collins (unattached), M Molitika (Cardiff Blues), P Wannenburg (Blue Bulls).
Replacements: S Bruno (Sale), P Collazo (Gloucester), S Dellape (Biarritz), D Croft, M Claassens (Bath), G Jackson, J Pretorius (Lions).

see also
England v Baa-Baas pictures
01 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
Barbarians 14-39 Ireland
27 May 08 |  Irish
Baa-Baas pick Vainikolo & Balshaw
20 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Borthwick proud to lead England
13 May 08 |  English
Borthwick to lead England in NZ
13 May 08 |  English
England pair's World Cup dream
06 Aug 07 |  English
England v Wales (Sat)
03 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union

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