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Ireland Wolfhounds hold off England Saxons
- Rokoduguni gets Saxons call
- Tait out of Saxons opener
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- Saxons start for Eastmond
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Isaac Boss played a starring role as Ireland Wolfhounds beat England Saxons 14-8 at Kingsholm.
Boss and Ian Madigan crossed for tries for the visitors, both converted by the boot of Madigan.
The Saxons scored an unconverted try from Anthony Watson, while Freddie Burns kicked a penalty.
The Saxons fought hard for a fluency that never came, Watson claiming the hosts' only try after gratefully scooping up a knock-on from Wolfhounds wing Craig Gilroy.
England produced a late resurgence to try to steal victory, but Elliot Daly was held up short and Burns was squeezed into touch trying to sneak a try.
Those players with one eye on senior Six Nations action were unable to particularly impress the watching Stuart Lancaster and Joe Schmidt.
Burns, the Gloucester fly-half bound for Leicester in the summer, could not capitalise on an unexpected outing.
England head coach Lancaster sent Elite Player Squad man Burns into Saxons action to help him regain confidence after a wretched two months deliberating his club future had wrecked his form.
The 23-year-old should still slot back into England's Six Nations squad, alongside Owen Farrell and George Ford but Lancaster could so easily promote Northampton's Stephen Myler, whose form has been far more assured this term.
However, it was Madigan's try and accuracy with the boot that sealed the victory.
The Wolfhounds drew first blood, Leinster scrum-half Boss nipping round a maul the Saxons forgot to defend at the fringes.
England's second-string had a chance to hit straight back, only for Matt Hopper to fail to find Anthony Watson after the pack had created an overlap.
England punted a kickable penalty to the corner, but failed to get the better of the Irish at the maul, wasting three points in chasing five.
Ireland failed to clear their lines, but captain Rhys Ruddock claimed a fine turnover to dampen English incision once more.
England worked Daly free to chip into the corner after a solid scrum, forcing another restart from an Ireland knock-on.
Ireland eased away from trouble after Hopper spilled the ball, before hustling Joe Simpson into a hurried clearance.
The visitors could not exploit a line-out in dangerous field position, and in next to no time were under their own posts.
Felix Jones floated a pass out to Craig Gilroy, the Ulster wing failed to claim, and unwittingly palmed straight off to the lurking Watson.
Bath's speed man needed no second invitation, and paced clear of the defence to level the try count, with Burns missing the conversion.
Neat breaks from Madigan and Robbie Henshaw set a dangerous platform for Ireland, who then built a solid catch-and-drive from a line-out.
England hauled the set maul down illegally, Madigan sneaked a quick tap-penalty, and delivered Ireland's second try.
Catching England unawares for the key split-second, the Leinster fly-half wriggled enough space around Dave Ewers and Sam Hill to dot down.
Ireland led 14-5 at the break, and returned with fit-again Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss replacing Ulster's Rob Herring.
England returned with new intent and squeezed the Wolfhounds into an immediate scrum collapse, but Burns slapped the post with the regulation penalty, hitting woodwork for the second time in the day.
Burns finally slotted a penalty with a little more than a quarter-hour to play; the first points for either side in the half as the Wolfhounds defence held firm.