England XV 38 Crusaders 7: Danny Cipriani stakes claim for No 10 jersey in warm-up win

Stuart Lancaster's men scored six tries as they prepare to face All Blacks

The most English of New Zealand cities is also the most poignant place on the planet for rugby folk to congregate, hence the emotional charge surging through the capital of the South Island as international-class union finally returned to these parts after the 2011 earthquake.

Yet though Stuart Lancaster’s tourists had played their full part in supporting the relief effort since arriving in Christchurch, charity extended only so far. There was precious little of it on show once the game began.

England’s midweek “dirt-trackers” scored half-a-dozen tries, four of them in a first-half performance that laid the foundations for a first red-rose victory in this country in more than a decade. The Crusaders may have been just a little more resilient had their very best players been available to them – Richie McCaw, Daniel Carter and Kieran Read – but given the poverty of their recent record here, the visitors would have been happy to stick this many points on the New Zealand Under-10s.

There were good-news stories all over the place. Danny Cipriani, treated with tender loving care by the Lancaster regime since being called into the squad, repaid his rehabilitators with 47 minutes’ worth of eye-catching rugby at  No 10, setting things in motion by creating the opening score for the hooker Joe Gray before the Crusaders had laid a meaningful hand on the ball.

Chris Pennell dives over for a try against Crusaders Meanwhile, the young Bath wing Anthony Watson lit up a more hotly contested second half with an individual try of high quality; Brad Barritt reaffirmed his value to the squad as a defensive linchpin; and Alex Goode played with his customary intelligence.

But on balance, the plaudits went to the forwards – most notably the skipper Ed Slater, whose industrial-strength work in the engine room had Lancaster drooling, and the open-side flanker Matt Kvesic, who reminded red-rose watchers of his existence by taking on an opponent as resourceful as the All Black scavenger Matt Todd and living to tell the tale.

“Ed is a good leader and a very good player,” Lancaster said. “I can see him pushing hard over the next season or so. As for Matt, it was the best performance I’ve seen since this time last year.” England scored four tries before half time

Kvesic’s return to something resembling top form could hardly be more welcome from the England perspective. In many positions the coaching staff are up to their eyeballs in potential candidates. In the breakaway position, the feast turns to famine. If there was a time when national captain Chris Robshaw felt under pressure to justify his Test place, that evaporated the moment the Gloucester pack engaged reverse gear at the start of the last Premiership campaign.


As a consequence of all that powder-puffery at Kingsholm, the unfortunate Kvesic found himself attempting to move his career forwards while playing going backwards. Sure enough, his rugby suffered horribly. Yesterday’s battle royal on the floor with the ravenous Todd was a turning point, to the extent that Lancaster is once again thinking in terms of two serviceable open-sides rather than one.

Watson’s effort just shy of the hour was the pick of the tries: a beautifully balanced solo assault from distance, executed at high speed. “When you think he’s fresh out of the Under-20s programme,” said Lancaster, who had no need to complete the sentence. It is an exciting thought.

Anthony Watson scores an individual second-half try for England against Crusaders in Christchurch (Getty) Anthony Watson scores an individual second-half try for England against Crusaders in Christchurch (Getty)

Scorers: Crusaders: Try Todd; Conversion Taylor. England: Tries Gray, Foden, Barritt, Goode, Watson, Pennell; Conversions Cipriani 3, Myler.

Crusaders: T Taylor; J McNicholl, R Lee-Lo (R Thompson, 68), K Fonotia (A Whitelock, 50), N Tuitavake; T Bleyendaal, W Heinz (A Ellis, 50); T Perry (J Moody, 57), C Flynn (B Funnell, 57), N Laulala (S Tokolahi, 76), J Tupou (S Barrett, 30), J Everson, J Taufua, G Whitelock (capt, M Todd, 19), L Whitelock.

England XV: A Goode (C Pennell, 56); B Foden, H Trinder (J May, 56), B Barritt, A Watson; D Cipriani (S Myler, 47), L Dickson (R Wigglesworth, 47); A Waller (N Catt, 56), J Gray (D Ward, 59), H Thomas (K Sinckler, 56), E Slater (Leicester, capt), D Attwood (M Paterson, 68), J Haskell, M Kvesic, T Johnson.

Referee: N Owens (Wales).


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power