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).

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn