Botha advances late claim for World Cup as Tongan pack scattered

England Saxons 41 Tonga 14

There were moments yesterday when the ever-impoverished Tongans asked some interesting questions of England's second-string, the overwhelming favourites to land a sixth Churchill Cup title in nine attempts. Unfortunately for the South Seas islanders, none of those moments occurred at scrum-time. All they could do then was attempt to kid the referee that they were better organised then they looked, and as they happened to be in the presence of the best set-piece official in world rugby, they had no chance.

Romain Poite awarded three penalty tries against the Tongan tight forwards, who committed every scrummaging crime in the book – collapsing, standing up, whip-wheeling, slipping the binding – and got away with precisely nothing. The remaining English tries had much to do with Jordan Crane, the Leicester No 8, who claimed one from close range and created the other with an angled pass off his right foot that would have had Glenn Hoddle purring with pleasure. Billy Twelvetrees, his club-mate, was on hand to finish this final scoring move but, by then, the Saxons tight forwards had long since made their decisive point.

Much has been said and written about Matt Stevens' chance of making an early return to the full England squad ahead of this autumn's World Cup in New Zealand, but the Worcester prop Matt Mullan went about his work in an equally impressive fashion. In addition, there was aggression a-plenty from the London Irish hooker David Paice, while Dave Attwood accomplished as much at the line-out as he did at the scrum.

And then there was Mouritz Botha, freshly minted as an Englishman after spending 29 years as a proud South African. Some traditionalists will resent his sudden appearance in a red-rose shirt, but no fair-minded witness could accuse him of short-changing his new country on the commitment front. Some of his tackling was so recklessly full-on he beat the Tongans at their own game. For every rib-rearranging horizontal assault perpetrated by Sione Timani, a better example was provided by the eye-catching Saracens lock.

Stuart Lancaster, the Saxons coach, suggested that a number of the forwards had done enough to merit consideration for the World Cup training squad, which will be named by the England manager Martin Johnson a week today. Botha may yet push for a place, especially if he tears up a few more trees in the Churchill Cup final against Canada this coming weekend.

As for the Tongans, who have the dubious pleasure of opening the World Cup against the All Blacks in Auckland, the scrummaging problems are a major concern. It was not as if they fielded a front row full of nobodies – Tonga Lea'aetoa, Semisi Telefoni and Kisi Pulu featured regularly in the French Top 14 championship last season – and while Soane Tonga'uiha of Northampton and Taufa'ao Filise of Cardiff Blues will probably be the first-choice props when things get serious in September, the islanders patently have issues to address.

When they were able to escape their set-piece purgatory, they played some striking stuff: the centre Suka Hufanga and the No 8 Pasuka Mapakaitolo contributed strongly, as did the scrum-half Soane Havea. Rugby is a tough old game to play in reverse gear, though, and if you cannot win your own ball, it is fiendishly difficult to go anywhere but backwards.

Scorers: England Saxons: Tries penalties 3, Crane, Twelvetrees; Conversions Clegg 5; Penalties Clegg 2. Tonga: Tries Timani, Koloamatangi; Conversions K Morath 2.

England Saxons: A Goode (Saracens); C Sharples (Gloucester), H Trinder (Gloucester), W Twelvetrees (Leicester), T Ojo (London Irish); R Clegg (Harlequins), P Hodgson (London Irish); M Mullan (Worcester), D Paice (London Irish), M Stevens (Saracens), M Botha (Saracens), D Attwood (Bath), J Gaskell (Sale), T Johnson (Exeter), J Crane (Leicester, capt). Replacements: M Brown (Harlequins) for Goode 55; J Gray (Harlequins) for Paice 55; J Turner-Hall (Harlequins) for Trinder 60; M Young (Leicester) for Hodgson 67; K Brookes (Leicester) for Mullan 67; G Kitchener (Leicester) for Gaskell 72; J Gibson (London Irish) for Johnson 75.

Tonga: E Paea; V Iongi, S Hufanga, S Fonua, V Helu; K Morath, D Morath; T Lea'aetoa, S Telefoni, K Pulu (capt), S Timani, E Kauhenga, J Afu, P Koloamatangi, P Mapakaitolo. Replacements: O Fainga'anuku for Lea'aetoa 56; S Havea for D Morath 56; A Halangahu for Telefoni 59; Lea'aetoa for Mapakaitolo 63-76.

Referee: R Poite (France).

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
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

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution