England A title strengthens feelgood factor

United States 6 England A 43
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The Independent Online

Henry Paul believes that English rugby is on top of the world after helping England A win the inaugural Churchill Cup final.

The inside centre's 40-metre try was one of six touchdowns as England A's superior class guided them to this comprehensive victory at Thunderbird Stadium. While Clive Woodward's side have beaten New Zealand and Australia, on the other side of the world Jim Mallinder's men have made it three wins from three against Canada and the US Eagles (twice).

Paul, whose 58th-minute try took England into an unassailable 31-6 lead, said: "English rugby is on a real high at the moment. It doesn't matter whether you're in New Zealand and Australia or over here - it's all about playing well as a squad. It's good that England has a pool of around 60 players to chose from rather than just 20 or so."

Paul paid tribute to Mallinder and his assistant, Steve Diamond, saying: "The coaching staff have really fired us. We have learnt a lot from Jim and Steve and they have done a good job of keeping everyone tight."

Tries from Ben Johnston and Hugh Vyvyan, both converted by the outstanding Dave Walder, helped England A to a 17-6 half-time lead. Further scores from Pete Anglesea, Paul, Phil Greening and Iain Balshaw completed the rout.

England now travel to Tokyo for two games against a Japan Select XV (3 July) and Japan (6 July).

Mallinder said: "Three from three - you can't ask for anything more than that, but we set out our goals from the outset and that's winning all five games; that is our No 1 priority. We have got two tough games in difficult humid conditions; we don't know much about Japan so the challenge is there for us."

In the same stadium, Georgia Stevens put all her muscle into scoring the last-minute try that crowned England's women as inaugural Churchill Cup women's champions.

The 30-year-old was at the back of the scrum that pushed Canada back towards their line five minutes into injury-time. England, disrupted by injuries to Helen Flippance and Jo Yapp, had trailed 18-16 but they dug deep and Stevens picked up before driving over for the 21-18 win. The victory confirms England's standing as the No 2 side in the world behind New Zealand.

USA: Penalties Wilfley 2. England A: Tries Balshaw, Johnston, Paul, Anglesea, Vyvyan, Greening; Conversions Walder 4, Barkley; Penalty Walder.

USA: Wilfley; Fee, Eloff, Cross, van Zyl; Sherman, Kjar; McDonald, Khasigian, Dorsey, Surgener, Gross, Schubert, Hodgson, Lyle. Not Used: Griffin, Tarpoff, Gouws, Fifita, Dalzell, Keyter, Timoteo.

ENGLAND A: I Balshaw (Bath); M Cueto (Sale), B Johnston (Saracens), H Paul (Gloucester), J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester); D Walder (Newcastle), M Wood (Bath); A Sheridan (Sale), A Titterrell (Sale), W Green (Wasps), A Brown (Gloucester), A Codling (Saracens), P Anglesea (Sale), D Hyde (Leeds), H Vyvyan (capt, Newcastle). Replacements: P Christophers (Leeds) for Paul, 64; O Barkley (Bath) for Walder, 71; M Worsley (Harlequins) for Sheridan, 61; P Greening (Wasps) for Titterrell, 61; P Volley (Wasps) for Hyde, 71; C Jones (Sale) for Vyvyan, 65.

Referee: P Deluca (Argentina)