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England 39-13 Pacific Islanders

England (20) 39
Tries: Sackey (2), Cipriani, Kennedy, Mears
Cons: Cipriani (4) Pens: Cipriani (2)

Pacific Islanders (10) 13
Tries: Rabeni Cons: Hola Pens: Hola, Bai

By Rob Hodgetts

Paul Sackey scored England's first try against the Pacific Islanders
Paul Sackey scored England's first try against the Pacific Islanders

England impressed in a testing encounter with the Pacific Islanders to record their first win with former skipper Martin Johnson as coach.

The home side scored first-half tries through Paul Sackey and Danny Cipriani before Nick Kennedy, Lee Mears and Sackey again went over after the break.

Cipriani kicked 14 points, while Seru Rabeni crossed for the Islanders.

But England, ahead 20-10 at half-time, will need to improve with the three big southern hemisphere nations to come.

England will rue squandering points when scrum-half Danny Care fumbled in the process of scoring and when Cipriani's charged down kick handed Rabeni his score.

Johnson's men were also poor at the restart, handing easy points to the opposition, but there were plenty of positives, particularly from the new-look back three.

We know we have to improve - Johnson

England fielded four new caps in full-back Delon Armitage, wing Ugo Monye, inside centre Riki Flutey and second row Kennedy and the side as a whole looked unfamiliar in red shirts with white right sleeves at a two-thirds full Twickenham.

The Pacific Islanders began with a form of haka and continued on the front foot to earn an early penalty but Pierre Hola's 40-yard kick came up short.

Shortly after, Cipriani slotted three points and the home side stretched clear through Sackey's try.

Danny Cipriani
Fly-half Danny Cipriani had a mixed game for England

The livewire Care made a snappy half-break and offloaded to Tom Rees on his shoulder. The open-side fed Cipriani whose long pass found Armitage out wide.

Armitage accelerated impressively and threw an overhead pass back inside to the supporting Sackey who scampered over.

Cipriani converted but England made a mess of collecting the restart and the fly-half's attempted clearance kick off his left foot was charged down by Rabeni, who collected the loose ball to touch down.

England players happy under new regime

Midway through the period England should have gone further ahead but Care, chasing Sackey's kick ahead, fumbled the ball in the process of scoring.

From the ensuing scrum England were awarded a penalty but skipper Steve Borthwick opted for another scrum. A further penalty came England's way and Care tried to go quickly but England were forced back and the move broke down.

But when the home side earned another penalty, Cipriani stepped up to slot the three points.

The score heralded a period of intense Pacific Islanders pressure, but England's defence remained resolute, and when Borthwick's men forced a penalty, Care took a tap deep inside his own half.

The scrum-half's quick thinking released Monye, who stepped out of Fijian Vilimoni Delasau's tackle and hit the afterburners before feeding Cipriani to score in the left corner.


As before, though, England lost concentration at the restart and allowed the visitors to pour forward, setting up a penalty for Hola just before the break.

Johnson's side struck again shortly after when Kennedy passed clean ball off the top of a line-out to Care, who sliced through the Islanders pack before feeding inside to Kennedy to score.

Pacific Islanders replacement Seremaia Bai narrowed the gap for another three points but the game went off the boil in the third quarter as a raft of replacements hampered the flow.

But England woke up the crowd after Monye's break set up field position and Bath hooker Mears crashed over.

England scored again in the last five minutes when Sackey dived over despite an arm around his neck.

Johnson's men will be encouraged by their efforts but they will face a different test when they play Australia on 15 November, followed by South Africa a week later and New Zealand on 29 November.

England: D Armitage (London Irish); P Sackey (Wasps), J Noon (Newcastle), R Flutey (Wasps), U Monye (Harlequins); D Cipriani (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), M Stevens (Bath), S Borthwick (Saracens, capt), N Kennedy (London Irish), T Croft (Leicester), T Rees (Wasps), N Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton - for Mears, 75), P Vickery (Wasps - for Stevens, 58), T Palmer (Wasps - for Kennedy, 58), J Haskell (Wasps - for Easter, 69), M Lipman (Bath - for Rees, 67), H Ellis (Leicester - for Care, 75), T Flood (Leicester - for Cipriani, 75).

Pacific Islanders: K Ratuvou (Fiji); S Tagicakibau (Samoa), S Rabeni (Fiji), S Mapusua (Samoa), V Delasau (Fiji); P Hola (Tonga), M Rauluni (Fiji, capt); J Va'a (Samoa), A Lutui (Tonga), C Johnston (Samoa), F Levi (Samoa), K Leawere (Fiji), S Naevo (Fiji), N Latu (Tonga), F Maka (Tonga).
Replacements: S Koto (Fiji - for Lutui, 69), K Pulu (Tonga - for Johnston, 58), H T Pole (Tonga - for Levi, 62), G Stowers (Samoa - for Maka, 17), S Martens (Tonga - for Raulini, 73), S Bai (Fiji - for Hola, 47), E Taione (Tonga -for Rabeni, 58).

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see also
Johnson passes first test
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England call up uncapped quartet
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International photos
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Wales 15-20 South Africa
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Scotland 6-32 New Zealand
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Ireland 55-0 Canada
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Italy 20-30 Australia
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Pick your England XV
27 Oct 08 |  Squad Selector
Rugby union on the BBC
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