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Page last updated at 22:08 GMT, Saturday, 6 June 2009 23:08 UK

England Saxons 28-20 Argentina A

England Saxons (3) 28
Tries: Smith, Simpson, Varndell Cons: Cipriani 2 Pens: Cipriani 2 Drop: Myler

Argentina A (6) 20
Tries: Roan Pens: Gurruchaga (4), Mieres

Shane Geraghty in action for the England Saxons
Shane Geraghty in action for the England Saxons

England Saxons raised their game in the second half to come from behind and secure an opening win over Argentina A in their defence of the Churchill Cup.

Two penalties from Martin Rodriguez gave the Jaguars a slender 6-3 lead after a physical first half in Denver.

Debutant Matt Smith then carved through the defence to nudge the Saxons in front, before Joe Simpson skipped over.

Tomas Roan's score cut the lead to three, but Tom Varndell swooped from the back of a ruck to seal the win.

A penalty from Wasps' Danny Cipriani, overlooked for the senior side's two-Test series against Argentina despite earning a place on the Lions stand-by list, was the Saxons' only score before the break.


But the game opened up in the second half as both sides began to show a sense of adventure with ball in hand.

Centre Shane Geraghty slipped the ball inside to Smith to scamper in for the first try, before Cipriani added the extras.

Rodriguez kept his side in the hunt with a pair of penalties either side of a successful Cipriani attempt to put the Saxons within a single point.

But man-of-the-match Simpson won some breathing space for England's second-string as he darted round the outside of the Argentine defence from the base of the scrum to make it 20-12.

Roan's try just after the hour put his side within striking distance, but a powerful surge round the fringes from Leicester's Varndell put the Saxons more than a converted score clear with 10 minutes to hang on.

England Saxons captain Stuart Hooper: "We expected a tough game from Argentina and we had a plan in place which we stuck to pretty well and we got the result.

"Argentina are a very competitive side and they came at us and really put pressure on us at the break down. We have to learn from that and improve for next match.

"The altitude does play a factor but I've never played a 80 minute match and not felt tired.

"We face USA on Sunday and it is in the middle of a very competitive season for them, they have played some Test matches in the last few weeks. They also have a match mid week before they play us so they are going to be really together and playing well and it will be another huge challenge for us."

England Saxons: Abendanon (Bath); Varndell (Leicester), Waldouck (Wasps), Geraghty (London Irish), Smith (Leicester); Cipriani (Wasps), Simpson (Wasps); Flatman (Bath), Webber (Wasps), Cole (Leicester), Short (Bath), Hooper (captain, Bath), Jones (Sale), Woods (Leicester), Narraway (Gloucester).
Replacements: Mercey (Saracens), Lambert (Harlequins), Briggs (Sale), Guest (Harlequins), Dowson (Newcastle), Young (Newcastle), Myler (Northampton).

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see also
Injury forces Kennedy into Saxons
01 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
USA 10-27 Ireland
31 May 09 |  Irish
Johnson defends Cipriani omission
19 May 09 |  English

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