England beat Crusaders 38-7 as Danny Cipriani shines

By James StandleyBBC Sport
England fly-half Danny Cipriani on the attack against the Crusaders
Fly-half Danny Cipriani shone on his first start for England since 2008

England's second string gave the 1st XV a boost ahead of Saturday's third Test against the All Blacks as they brushed aside Super Rugby team the Crusaders.

Danny Cipriani's early break set up the first try for hooker Joe Gray.

Ben Foden added a second and although Matt Todd replied for the hosts, further tries from Brad Barritt and Alex Goode, plus three Cipriani conversions, made it 26-7 at half-time.

England added second-half tries through Anthony Watson and Chris Pennell.

The Crusaders were without their All Blacks, including New Zealand captain Richie McCaw and fly-half Dan Carter, who has just started his playing return after a sabbatical.

Dan Carter talks to England assistant coach Mike Catt
All-time Test points record holder Carter (left) was on the touchline in Christchurch on Tuesday

And, despite fielding the bulk of the team that has taken them to third in the Super Rugby standings, they were unable to cope with the power of the tourists' second string.

Blind-side flanker James Haskell and second row and captain Ed Slater put themselves about to good effect and open-side flanker Matt Kvesic prospered at the breakdown.

England, who go into Saturday's third and final Test 2-0 down having already lost the series, will be without fly-half Owen Farrell because of injury.

With a platform to play from, Cipriani - starting in an England shirt for the first time in six years - did his chances of making the squad for Hamilton no harm at all.

He played a controlled game, happy to kick for field position from his own half and making his tackles, and produced enough glimpses of his undoubted attacking talent to remind the world why he was first picked by England at the age of 20 in 2008.

It was his classy break, after a powerful drive from a line-out had put England on the front foot, that created the first chance as the Sale fly-half drew the full-back and sent Harlequins hooker Gray over.

Northampton full-back Foden, playing on the right wing in Christchurch, then pounced to score in the corner as Johnny McNicholl waited in vain for Goode's chip to go out, and although Cipriani could not add to his previous conversion, England had an early 12-0 lead.

It had been a superb start from the visitors, with the Crusaders unable to live with their power, but the hosts fought their way back into the game and got on the scoreboard through a converted try from All Black squad member Todd.

However, England resumed control and Barritt charged over to finish off a sustained attack, before Goode dummied his way to the line after Slater had stripped the Crusaders of the ball deep in their 22.

Cipriani converted both scores to make it 26-7 at the break and was withdrawn soon after the restart, along with impressive half-back partner Lee Dickson, presumably to save them for at least a bench spot on Saturday.

The second half saw more attacking threat from the hosts as England's intensity slipped after making changes, including a first appearance in a full England shirt for hugely promising 21-year-old tight-head prop Kyle Sinckler.

Alex Goode scores for England on Tuesday against the Crusaders
Full-back Goode's try meant England were out of sight by half-time on Tuesday

England added a fifth try as 20-year-old Bath flyer Watson - also making his first appearance for a senior England side after starring for the World Championship-winning Under-20s side last year - sliced through near a ruck 40m out from Pennell's inside pass and rounded Tom Taylor before outpacing the opposition to score by the posts.

England's fine defence was typified by Pennell, the Worcester full-back pulling off a superb tackle to deny flying Crusaders blind-side Jordan Taufua in the corner.

And it was fitting that Pennell, who was outstanding for Worcester despite the Warriors being relegated from the Premiership, should have the final word.

He raced on to Barritt's grubber kick to score the sixth try with the final play of the game to cap an impressive England display.

Crusaders: T Taylor; McNicholl, Lee-Lo, Fonotia, Tuitavake; Bleyendaal, Heinz; Perry, Flynn, Laulala, Tupou, Everson, Taufua, G Whitelock, L Whitelock.

Replacements: Moody for Perry (60), Funnell for Flynn (60), Tokolahi for Laulala (76), Barrett for Tupou (31), Todd for G Whitelock (19), Ellis for Heinz (51), A Whitelock for Fonotia (51), Thompson for Lee-Lo (69).

England: Goode; Foden, Trinder, Barritt, Watson; Cipriani, Dickson; Waller, Gray, Thomas, Slater, Attwood, Haskell, Kvesic, Johnson.

Replacements: Catt for Waller (58), Ward for Gray (60), Sinckler for Thomas (58), Paterson for Attwood (69), Wigglesworth for Dickson (48), Myler for Cipriani (48), May for Trinder (58), Pennell for Goode (60).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)