Rugby Union: Field day as Guscott runs amok

World Cup countdown: Greening seizes chance to advertise his ability in 16-try rout of Americans; England 106 United States 8 Tries: Guscott 4, Back 2, Try: Sucher Luger 2, Perry 2, Dawson, Pen: Dalzell De Glanville, Greening, Hill, Johnson, Penalty Cons: Wilkinson 13 Half-time: 31-8 Attendance: 15,000
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The Independent Online
ENGLAND EXPECTED and it was duly delivered in spades at Twickenham last night when they took America apart in what was meant to be a warm- up game for the World Cup. Mismatches are only enjoyable if you happen to be on the winning side but for the most powerful nation on earth it was unadulterated humiliation.

England scored 16 tries, 13 of them converted by Jonny Wilkinson in a scoreline that almost replicated the annihilation of Holland in a World Cup qualifier at Huddersfield last season. Jeremy Guscott scored four tries all of them in a second half in which the United States suffered their biggest massacre since the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Aside from one or two, the England players on duty here had already secured their places in the World Cup squad, which will be announced at the end of the month. A notable exception was the Sale hooker Phil Greening and he took his chance with both hands.

Greening displayed some exceptional ball skills and featured in many of the procession of tries and a procession it most certainly was. By the end the scoreboard had run out of space. It read "England 06 - US 8".

The Eagles, who clearly are still some way from leaving the nest, actually took the lead in the fourth minute following a break in the centre from Juan Grobler. It led to a penalty which the scrum-half Kevin Dalzell converted.

England had to wait 15 minutes to score, Richard Hill appearing on the right wing to take a pass from Matt Perry. Thereafter the England forwards, with the former captain Lawrence Dallaglio restored to a hugely superior back row, ran the show pretty much as they pleased. "The Americans were tough to break down in the first 20 minutes but we kept our shape and we kept our foot on the gas," Martin Johnson, the England captain said. "It was pretty good considering it was our first game of the season. In the past after putting 50 points on the board we'd have lost our shape but we were very hungry.

"A few chances went missing and against top teams that would not be good enough to win. We have to be a bit more precise. I'd like to say that the crowd were brilliant."

Clive Woodward, the England coach, singled out Dallaglio for special praise. "It was Lawrence's first game for a long time and he did paricularly well,' he said. "I like the look of the England team when we have that back row." Referring to the appearance of Dallglio at an RFU disciplinary tribunal on Wednesday on charges of drug misuse and bringing the game into disrepute, Woodward added: "I just hope we can put all this stuff behind us by this time next week."

England's pace, power, angles of running and relentless support play left the Americans battered, bewildered, bemused and, by the end, on their knees. It is possible that this one-sided encounter has done untold damage to the cause of the game in the United States. What the Americans need are less of the Gentlemen of Aspen and more of the rejects from the Green Bay Packers or the San Francisco 49ers.

Their coach Jack Clark had said before hand that the US had no choice but to make friends with their deficiencies. He pointed out that he had only four full-time players and that 250 million people back home would not read a word about the game in their newspapers. Perhaps it is just as well. The Americans cannot stand losers.

England led 31-8 by half-time, the only moment of glory for the Americans coming in the 33rd minute when the prop George Sucher burrowed his way over near the England posts.

After the interval England and Guscott ran amok, the Bath centre, who is edging closer to Rory Underwood's record number of tries, crossing the American line in the 45th, 54th, 74th and 80th minutes. For England the only cloud on the horizon was the decision to play in the evening. The experiment, it has to be said, was not an unqualified success. In fact it was not even a qualified success.

There are said to be a variety of reasons for the RFU switching from an afternoon to an evening kick-off. One is that it suited Sky TV (The Sky at Night?), another is that the England hierarchy were impressed with the atmosphere generated at night matches in the Southern Hemisphere. Yet another, surely apocryphal, is that by having a later start the traditional, and expensive, post-match banquet, which many feel is outdated, becomes a thing of the past. Maybe it was done to accommodate the visitors - any New Yorker who had tuned in could digest the news over lunch - or to attract strays from the Test match at The Oval to the oval ball game.

Whatever the reasons, it did not work. Twickenham has seen more people for a meeting of the Jehovah's Witnesses. There was, of course, pre-match entertainment featuring large blow-up dolls in the England strip, a couple of songs by an actress who used to play Tiffany in EastEnders, the unfurling of the largest cross of St George flag in Christendom, and fireworks. Above the south stand, on an almost cloudless evening, the moon was in all its glory. The Americans can play golf on the moon but when it comes to top flight professional rugby they invariably find the opposition operating on a different planet.

England: M Perry (Bath); D Luger (Saracens), P de Glanville (Bath), J Guscott (Bath), A Healey (Leicester); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), M Dawson (Northampton); G Rowntree (Leicester), P Greening (Sale), P Vickery (Gloucester), M Johnson (Leicester, capt), D Grewcock (Saracens), R Hill (Saracens), L Dallaglio (Wasps), N Back (Leicester). Replacements: W Green (Wasps) for Vickery 54, T Woodman (Gloucester) for Rowntree 54, T Rodber (Northampton) for Grewcock 58, T Stimpson (Bath) for Perry 58, N McCarthy (Gloucester) for Greening 68.

USA: K Shuman (Oxford University); V Anitoni (San Mateo), J Grobler (Denver Barbarians), T Takau (Gentlemen of Aspen), A Saulala (San Mateo); D Niu (Hibernians), K Dalzell (OMBAC),; G Sucher (Washington), T Billups (Pontypridd), R Lehner (Old Blues), L Gross (Rovigo), A Parker (Gentlemen of Aspen), D Hodges (Llanelli), D Lyle (Bath, capt), F Mounga (Old Blues). Replacements: C Morrow (Gentlemen of Aspen) for Anitoni 11, R Lumkong (Denver Barbarians) for Mounga 40, M Williams (Gentlemen of Aspen) for Niu 62, K Khasigian (University of California) for Billups 62, S Paga (University of California) for Hodges 68, M L'Huiller (Sydney University) for Lehner 75.

Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand)