England Saxons beat Tonga to reach Churchill Cup final

Tom Johnson on the charge
Exeter flanker Tom Johnson was part of a dominant Saxons pack at Kingsholm

A brutal forwards display ensured England Saxons secured their place in the Churchill Cup final against Canada after a comprehensive win over Tonga.

Tonga wilted under constant England scrum pressure as they conceded a hat-trick of set-piece penalty tries.

Jordan Crane added a first-half try before setting up Leicester team-mate Billy Twelvetrees in the 73rd minute, with Rory Clegg kicking 16 points.

Tonga's second-half tries were scored by Sione Timani and Pepa Koloamatangi.

The Pacific Islanders had no riposte to the power of England's forwards, particularly the dynamism of front-rowers Matt Mullan, David Paice and Matt Stevens, who completely decimated Tonga's scrums at Kingsholm.

French referee Romain Poite was particular severe on Tonga's tormented forwards, sounding a solitary warning before awarding three tries under the posts as the red half of the scrum continually collapsed under intense England pressure.

Stevens once again produced another impressive performance in front of England manager Martin Johnson, who will name his 45-man World Cup training squad next Monday.

However, Gloucester second-row Dave Attwood, another World Cup candidate hoping to catch Johnson's eye, had to be helped off the pitch at full-time with a leg injury.

Saxons head coach Stuart Lancaster made four changes to his starting XV which thrashed the USA 87-8, with full-back Alex Goode, wing Charlie Sharples, scrum-half Paul Hodgson and hooker Paice replacing Mike Brown, Miles Benjamin, Micky Young and Joe Gray.

Jordan Crane, who featured in last week's 87-8 win over USA, was once again named at number eight in place of injured captain Luke Narraway.

And the Leicester forward's 16th-minute score in between two first-half penalty tries gave the Saxons a comfortable 24-0 half-time lead.

Tonga finally responded 10 minutes into the second half when lock Timani, who will play for the Scarlets next season, bundled over for a try converted by Kurt Morath.

Twelvetrees missed what looked a simple try-scoring opportunity when he spilled a simple pass after a break from Clegg, but he was soon on the scoresheet when Crane's intelligent grubber kick found the centre completely unopposed for a simple touchdown.

But the enormous Koloamatangi ensured Tonga finished in double figures with a powerful burst to the line in the final few minutes.

The Saxons play Canada in the final at Worcester's Sixways Stadium next Saturday, 18 June.

In the other Churchill Cup match played on Sunday, Italy A beat Russia 24-19.

England Saxons: A Goode; C Sharples, H Trinder, B Twelvetrees, T Ojo; R Clegg, P Hodgson; M Mullan, D Paice, M Stevens, M Botha, D Attwood, J Gaskell, T Johnson, J Crane (capt).

Replacements: J Gray for Paice (55), M Brown for Goode (55), J Turner-Hall for Trinder (59), M Young for Hodgson (65), K Brookes for Mullan (65), G Kitchener for Gaskell (69), J Gibson for Johnson (73).

Sin Bin: Twelvetrees (74).

Tonga: Paea, Helu, Hufanga, Siua, Iongi, K. Morath, D. Morath, Lea'aetoa, Telefoni, Pulu, Timani, Kauhenga, Afu, Koloamatangi, Mapakaitolo.

Replacements: Hehea for Kauhenga (47), Havea for D Morath (55), Fainga'anuku for Lea'aetoa (55), Ula for Timani (65). Not Used: Halangahu, Fonua, Malupo.

Sin Bin: Fainga'anuku (61).

Ref: Romain Poite (France).

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