Dowson injury gives England a scare after Ashton leads rout

England 57 Barbarians 26

Twickenham

Low-intensity matches are all fine and dandy at this late stage of a campaign, especially if 42,000 spectators are willing to shell out for the privilege of watching. The problem comes when the intensity level rises sufficiently to break into the "high impact" category and leaves some poor soul spreadeagled across a stretcher. This was the cruel fate suffered by the Northampton back-row forward Phil Dowson at Twickenham yesterday and as a result, he gave the England coaching team an unpleasant scare.

Dowson may have lost his place in the England starting line-up to the fast-developing Ben Morgan midway through the Six Nations, but he was still among the first names on the list when the head coach Stuart Lancaster finalised his squad for the forthcoming tour of South Africa. Lancaster awarded him the captaincy for this runaround in the sunshine and when Dowson was carried off midway through the final quarter after taking a fearful smack on the head in the build-up to the seventh of his side's eight tries, there was understandable concern.

Afterwards, the back-room staff were confident he would be fit to take his seat on the Johannesburg-bound flight on Wednesday. "I've had a conversation with him and I think he'll be fine," Lancaster said, adding that Dowson would be subject to the usual medical protocols relating to concussion-type injuries. "The good thing is that there's a bit of time before the first Test against the Springboks."

Equally optimistic that Toby Flood would make the trip – the Leicester midfielder has been struggling with injury and missed the Premiership final at the weekend – Lancaster has an even-money chance of travelling with a full squad. (He is not completely sure, for the body-count from the club showpiece has yet to be confirmed and there is still every possibility of the centre Manu Tuilagi being cited for a tip-tackle on Danny Care).

The England camp were justifiably happy with their strike-rate yesterday: too often in recent times, their annual date with a scratch Baa-Baas side awash with end-of-season ale had been too troublesome for words. Chris Ashton broke his red-rose fast by running in a hat-trick of tries, two of them from trademark positions far from his wing, though his reluctance to mark any of the touchdowns with a characteristic "splash dive" was just a little baffling.

"I had a conversation with Stuart some time ago and he told me it should be done at the right time and the right place," said the Saracens-bound finisher. "It didn't seem right here." Right in the cut and thrust of a Test match, but wrong in the midst of a Baa-Baas fun-fest? Weird.

There were eye-catching contributions from Dylan Hartley, back at hooker after suspension, and the young Wasps wing Christian Wade, who balanced some scratchy moments in defence with some exhilarating work in attack. And then there was Jonathan Joseph, the uncapped centre from London Irish. His combination of sliderule running angles and bag-of-tricks footwork left the Baa-Baas back line comprehensively flummoxed.

But given the invitation team's failure to hang onto the ball, the England backs were always likely to have a field day. "I'd have to say we're pretty disappointed with our ball retention," admitted John Kirwan, the World Cup-winning All Black who is coaching the Barbarians on this brief gallop around the British mainland. "When we kept the ball in contact, we looked dangerous outside. Unfortunately, we didn't do it nearly often enough."

Mils Muliaina, the New Zealand full-back, may have looked the part with ball in hand, but not even he was error-free. Only the outstanding Cardiff Blues centre Casey Laulala asked real questions of the home side, although the French forward Raphael Lakafia added some oomph late on. It was nowhere near enough to make a proper game of it. "You can't draw any conclusions about England from that," said the Barbarian captain John Smit, a proud South African. And he was right.

England: Tries Ashton 3, Joseph 2, Hartley, Wade, Wigglesworth. Conversions Farrell 7. Penalty Farrell.

Barbarians: Tries Muliaina 2, Tindall, Taele. Conversions: Donald 2, Contepomi.

England: B Foden; C Ashton (both Northampton), B Barritt, O Farrell (both Saracens), C Wade (Wasps); C Hodgson (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton); M Stevens (Saracens), D Hartley, P Doran-Jones (both Northampton), M Botha (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Johnson (Exeter), C Fearns (Bath), P Dowson (Northampton, capt).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath) for Hartley 38; M Mullan (Worcester) for Stevens, h-t; Hartley for Mears, h-t; A Goode (Saracens) for Foden 51; J Joseph (London Irish) for Hodgson 51; J Launchbury (Wasps) for Botha 54; J Gibson (London Irish) for Fearns 54; R Wigglesworth (Saracens) for Dickson, 60; Mears for Dowson 67; Stevens for Doran-Jones 75.

Barbarians: M Muliaina (NTT Docomo); P Sackey (Stade Francais), C Laulala (Cardiff Blues), M Tindall (Gloucester), I Balshaw (Biarritz); S Donald (Bath), R Lawson (Gloucester); N Tialata (Bayonne), J Smit (Saracens, capt), J Afoa (Ulster), M Chisholm (Bayonne), A Van Zyl (Stade Francais), E Joubert (Saracens), A Qera (Fiji), J Beattie (Glasgow). Replacements: S Tagicakibau (London Irish) for Sackey. 45; J Fillol (Stade Francais) for Lawson, 56; D Jones (Ospreys) for Tialata, 58; B August (Biarritz) for Smit, 58; R Lakafia (Biarritz) for Qera, 58; F Contepomi (Stade Francais) for Tindall, 67; P Taele (Biarritz) for Beattie, 67.

Referee: J Lacey (Ireland).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
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

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month