England scored seven tries to seal a 43-29 win over the USA in front of 10,000 roaring fans at Twickenham.
With many of their veteran stars away on British & Irish Lions duty, the new-look men in white secured victory in their first match since a Round 5 defeat to Ireland in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.
The away side were playing for the first time since the Rugby World Cup 2019 and crossed four times in a rousing second-half performance but it was England’s day.
LAWRENCE’S CHEEKY TRY PUTS ENGLAND ON TOP
With eight debutants England’s starting XV, the opening exchanges saw mistakes from the home side, as Joe Heyes gave away a penalty in the scrum which USA debutant Luke Carty slotted through the posts to give the Eagles the first points of the game.
England got on the board soon after thanks to a superb take by Max Malins from a Marcus Smith cross-field kick, Malins offloading to Sam Underhill for the first try of the afternoon.
Another composed take in the air set up England’s second try, as Joe Cokanasiga worked the ball out wide where Ollie Lawrence sprinted down the wing and across the whitewash, despite the last-ditch efforts of Mikey Teo who was left desperately grabbing at the Englishman’s shorts, briefly revealing his rear-end to the laughing crowd.
COKANASIGA DOUBLES UP AGAIN
In his first England start since facing the USA in the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Cokanasiga repeated his two-try feat from that match, picking gaps in the USA defence to move to nine tries in ten caps.
Eddie Jones’ 6-2 split on the bench was put to the test as scrum-half Dan Robson came into the backline with Lawrence forced off after a clash of heads with Marcel Brache, as Jacob Umaga had earlier come on to replace Malins.
The home side were denied a fifth try as the ball was lost forward in a mass of bodies, as England went into the half with a 26-3 lead.
CHARGE DOWNS ALL ROUND
Early England penalties invited the USA into England’s half at the restart, as Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz crossed for the Eagles’ first try of the game.
The USA continued to put pressure on the England defence but, only a minute into his debut, Jamie Blamire charged down a kick from Ruben De Haas, collecting the bouncing ball and scoring to restore England’s 23-point advantage.
Lewis Ludlow was replaced after 54 minutes and can reflect on a successful debut as he became only the fifth England Men’s player to captain the side on their first appearance in a Red Rose shirt.
Cam Dolan then copied Blamire in charging down a kick from the oblivious Harry Randall to hand the Eagles their second try of the half, with Carty converting.
USA RALLY LATE ON
The two sides then traded attacks and penalties with England’s pressure eventually paying dividends as Smith crossed for his first England try on his long-awaited debut, celebrating vociferously in front of the crowd.
Another debutant scored soon after, Player of the Match Randall using a dummy pass and his turn of pace to jink past the USA defence and dot down.
On their Independence Day, the USA had the last laugh, as replacement Hanco Germishuys went over for the Eagles’ third, completing the move from a lineout, before Christian Dyer dotted down a fourth for the Americans as England came away with a victory but plenty to think about.
WHAT THEY SAID
Player of the Match, Harry Randall, said: “It’s an absolute honour to represent my country. It has been a dream of mine for a long time.
“I’m happy to get out there with the team and put in a good performance to get the win.
“Fair play to them, they came at us and really had a crack at us in that second half and it’s good learning for us as a team that going forward teams don’t stop coming.
“Defensively, I think there’s bits to work on now going forward into next week. Good learning to take from it but overall a good win.
“We scored some nice tries out there as a team. I think our biggest area to look at is probably defensively.”