England were pushed further than they probably would have expected when they took on the USA in their summer Test at Twickenham on Sunday, despite running out as 43-29 winners.
The Americans had only come together for the first time in 20 months on Wednesday but, perhaps buoyed by the 4th of July celebrations taking place over the pond today, gave Eddie Jones’ men a good go of it, and even outscored the Red Rose 27-19 in the second half, scoring four tries. It was the first time they’ve scored four or more tries against a tier one side since they played France in 2004.
With eight changes in the starting XV, due to 12 England internationals being part of the British and Irish Lions squad in South Africa, it was understandable that England couldn’t deliver the most polished of performances but the newcomers did well and it wasn’t until injuries to Max Malins and Ollie Lawrence that their error count really started to build up.
Wing Joe Cokanasiga, making his first Test appearance since 2019, certainly impressed, scoring two tries in England’s seven-try win, while uncapped half-back pairing Harry Randall and Marcus Smith both scored their first tries in England shirts. Sam Underhill scored the opening try of the afternoon, with Lawrence and Jamie Blamire also getting over the line.
It was certainly an entertaining spectacle, made even better by the 10,000 fans watching on from the Twickenham stands, creating a cacophony of noise throughout the match.
Speaking to Channel 4, England coach Jones said, “I am really pleased, 12 new caps, it was a great day for rugby spectators at the ground.
"As a team there are things we can improve but for so many players making their debut for England we have got to be pleased with how they went.
"We got a little bit loose. It was one of those games that tend to open up. As we got loose they got stronger, and full credit to the USA. They kept in the game, kept coming and we got a little bit loose. We had a number of young players on at the end that will benefit from that experience.”
Man of the Match Randall said, "It’s an honour to represent my country, it has been a dream of mine for a long time. Fair play to them, they really had a crack at us in the second half.
"Defensively there is a bit to work on, plenty to learn from but a good win. We scored some nice tries, the biggest area is to look at the defence."
England won but there’ll be some work to do ahead of their next summer Test against Canada on Saturday.