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  • International Match
  • 26th Nov 2005
  • KO 14:30
  • Ground: Twickenham

England power past Samoa

By Graeme Mair  

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International Match, Twickenham, Saturday November 26

England ended their autumn international programme on a high with a 40-3 win over Samoa at Twickenham.

Tries from Tom Voyce (2), Charlie Hodgson, Harry Ellis and Tom Varndell allowed Andy Robinson's men to record a comfortable win.

The new-look back division produced an occasional cutting edge behind the scrum but England remained largely reliant on another dominant display from their powerful forward pack.

The game closed on a sour note when Lewis Moody and Alesana Tuilagi were both dismissed after featuring prominently in a mass brawl sparked by Tuilagi's dangerous tackle on Mark Cueto - Moody claiming an unwanted distinction as the first England player to be sent off in a Test at Twickenham.

Samoa had signalled their intentions with a traditional pre-match haka and enjoyed an encouraging opening five minutes as they controlled possession and territory.

But it was England who opened the scoring after six minutes when Samoa prop Cencus Johnston was penalised for not engaging straight at the scrum against Andrew Sheridan - Hodgson slotting a straightforward penalty.

After ten minutes Samoa levelled matters with a Tanner Vili penalty after England prop Matt Stevens entered from the side of a ruck.

Sheridan, who had been a disruptive influence on Samoa's scrum, was forced to limp off after 21 minutes and was replaced by Perry Freshwater.

Hodgson stroked over another penalty before England produced the opening try after turning over Samoa's ball on the half-way line. Moody collected the loose ball at Samoa's ruck and surged forward. The ball was moved quickly to Mike Tindall who released Voyce for a run-in to the line.

With England starting to control the game, some individual brilliance from Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu almost produced an end-to-end score. Sapolu dummied and stepped inside close to his own line, sprinted upfield and then chipped ahead. Lewsey just won a foot race with Lome Fa'atau and touched down under pressure over his own line.

Hodgson continued to collect points with his third penalty that extended England's lead to 16-3 at half-time.

Outside centre Simpson-Daniel, who had not really imposed himself on his international return, picked up a hip injury during the opening period and was replaced by Olly Barkley at half-time.

Straight from the restart England enjoyed a series of five-metre scrums as Samoa defended desperately against a forward orientated attack.

When Ellis did spin the ball wide from another scrum it allowed Voyce to cross for his second score of the afternoon. Hodgson fractionally delayed his pass and Voyce, running a straight line on his shoulder, crossed from close range without a Samoan hand being laid on him.

Samoa's energy sapping defensive efforts meant they visibly tired in the final quarter and their cause was further hampered when Justin Va'a and Vili were sent to the sin bin. Va'a received his yellow card for collapsing a scrum in the 61st minute while Vili joined him five minutes later for a high tackle on Cueto. England took advantage of their numerical advantage with a try each for the half-backs Hodgson and Ellis.

Hodgson swooped over on the blindside following a ruck close to the Samoa line, while Ellis showcased his pace with a sniping 30-metre break after spotting a gap at the side of a ruck.

With the game drifting to its conclusion a dangerous tackle from Tuilagi on an airborne Cueto alighted a mass brawl involving both sets of players.

Cueto jumped off the turf to confront Tuilagi only to be met with several punches from the winger. England flanker Moody was first on the scene but his decision to take the law into his own hands by landing a succession of blows on Leicester club-mate Tuilagi only inflamed the situation further.

When order was restored referee Mark Lawrence sent off both Tuilagi and Moody - neither man could have any complaint.

In the final moments substitute Varndell took advantage of a defensive mix-up to expertly scoop up Hodgson's chip ahead and crown his debut appearance with a try that stretched England's winning margin to 40-3.

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