Ireland A won the Churchill Cup with a convincing display against England Saxons in the searing heat of Denver last night. Declan Kidney’s decision to rotate his squad paid off again as they recovered from a slow start to overpower their opponents with a confident six-try performance.
Steven Myler kicked a third-minute penalty to give Stuart Lancaster’s side a 3-0 lead and three minutes later the sameplayer found the target from further out to give the Saxons a 6-0 advantage. However, two minutes later Jonathan Sexton cut the deficit to three with a penalty and six minutes later a spell of Ireland pressure ended when Devon Toner scored the game’s first try, converted by Sexton.
Myler pulled England to within a point with his third penalty but at the other end Isaac Boss scored, Sexton converting for a 17-9 advantage. On the half hour Myler reduced the deficit to five points with another successful kick – and both sides were reduced to 14 men in the 33rd minute when Ireland’s Chris Henry and England’s Dan Cole were sin-binned – Henry allowing himself to be provoked into getting involved by Stuart Hooper.
Ireland were the stronger side after the break with Sean Cronin, Johne Murphy and John Muldoon all crossing the try line with Ben Woods and Tom Varndell replying for the visitors.
The Saxons captain Phil Dowson admitted afterwards: “We’ve taken a pasting. I’m a little bit shocked – we’ll have to have a look at video but it’s not going to be pretty in terms of setpieces.
We didn’t look after our ball and didn’t subject them to enough work at their breakdown.”
England Saxons: TriesWoods, ll. Penalties Myler 4.
Ireland A: Tries Toner, Boss, Cronin, Jones, J Murphy, Muldoon. Conversions Sexton 3, McFadden 2. Penalties Sexton 3.
England Saxons: Abendanon; Cato, Waldouck, Barritt (Geraghty, 62), Varndell; Myler (Cipriani, 62), Young; Flatman, Webber, Cole, Hooper, Kennedy, Dowson, Woods, Narraway.
Ireland A: Jones; Hurley, McFadden, Matthews, J Murphy; Sexton, Boss; Healy, Cronin (Fogarty, 63), Buckley, Ryan, Toner, Best, Ronan, Henry.