By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) -England scored seven tries - but conceded a worrying four - as a virtual reserve team beat a spirited United States 43-29 in an entertaining though somewhat ragged Twickenham clash on Sunday.
England were without 13 players on Lions duty and several others being rested, and starting with eight debutants, they led 26-3 at halftime after two tries for Joe Cokanasiga and one each for Sam Underhill and Ollie Lawrence.
Debutant trio Jamie Blamire, Marcus Smith and man of the match scrumhalf Harry Randall all scored after the break but the U.S., playing their first game since the 2019 World Cup, crossed the line four times through Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz, Cam Dolan, Hanco Germishuys and Christian Dyer.
"I am really pleased, 12 new caps, it was a great day for rugby spectators at the ground," said England head coach Eddie Jones, who threw on four more new boys from the bench.
"As a team there are things we can improve but for so many players making their debut we have got to be pleased with how they went."
Luke Carty gave the visitors an early lead with a 50-metre penalty but Max Malins rose high to catch the restart and fed Underhill for a simple opening try
Lawrence, who barely got a touch of the ball in his six previous appearances, got the second, despite the close attentions of Mika Kruse Mikey Te’o, who ripped the centre’s shorts open to give the delighted crowd a full view of his exposed posterior.
Cokanasiga, whose last Test appearance was also against the U.S. in the World Cup, got an easy third after a quick tap and go by Randall. The big winger nabbed his second soon after, running a great line on to a nicely delayed Smith pass.
Lawrence then had to go off after a clash of heads but with Jacob Umaga already on for injured Malins the only back option left among the replacements was Dan Robson, who took up station on the left wing to add to the somewhat chaotic feel of the game.
Trailing 23-3 at the break, Fa'anana-Schultz began the U.S. fightback when he bundled over from a lineout drive but England quickly hit back.
It was a lovely moment for the next try by replacement hooker Blamire, whose first international touch was an errant lineout throw but whose second was to charge down the subsequent clearing kick, catch the ball and stretch over.
A chargedown of Randall by Dolan brought the Americans a second try but the England scrumhalf quickly made amends with a sharp blindside break from a scrum to feed Smith to mark his debut with a try on the ground where a week ago he was guiding Harlequins to their memorable Premiership final victory.]
Randall then scored the try of the game with the sort of break that has been his trademark for Bristol this season, throwing an outrageous dummy and then a killer sidestep to shred the American defence.
The end-to-end nature of the game continued as Germishuys scored for the U.S., Lewis Ludlam thought he had replied only for it to be chalked off, before Dyer had the last word as the visitors “won” the second half.
"It was one of those games that tend to open up," Jones said. "As we got loose they got stronger, and full credit to USA. They kept in the game, kept coming and we got a little bit loose. We had a number of young players on at the end that will benefit from that experience."
Their next opportunity will come in six days, when England play Canada back at Twickenham.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis)