England 28-9 Samoa: Home side earn first autumn win

By Mike HensonBBC Sport
Autumn internationals: England v Samoa
England (13) 28
Tries: May (2), Brown Pens; Ford (3) Cons: Ford (2)
Samoa (6) 9
Pens: T Pisi (3)

England secured their first win of the autumn as they saw off Samoa with a solid, if unspectacular performance.

England wing Jonny May scampered through a gap to score the only try of a scrappy first half at Twickenham.

The hosts, helped by a yellow card for Samoa's Jonny Leota, improved after the break and Mike Brown dived over after a clever kick from George Ford.

Some crisp handling put May in for his second shortly after, but England never cut loose as a capacity crowd hoped.

After defeats by New Zealand and South Africa on the previous two weekends had taken their losing streak to five matches, England needed not only a win, but a performance that restored belief in them as possible World Cup winners.

Instead, with Ford starting at fly-half for the first time, Stuart Lancaster's men stuttered through a first half.

Long time coming
England's win over Samoa was their first Test victory since winning 52-11 away to Italy on 15 March.

In greasy conditions, England were often over-ambitious, running the ball from long-range under fire from a characteristically ferocious Samoa defence.

The handling errors and frustration mounted for the home side before they took the lead for the first time through May's 19th-minute try.

The Gloucester winger scorched the Twickenham turf to score against the All Blacks a fortnight ago and his pace again transformed a half-chance into five points as he burst through from 30 metres after Ford's slick runaround.

Samoa stubbornly kept in touch, however, with Tusi Pisi's pair of penalties ensuring they were within a converted score at the break.

While England had struggled for rhythm in the first half, Ford's intelligent prompting with both boot and ball was not to blame and the Bath fly-half was central to the hosts' decisive two scores early in the second half.

England's autumn so far
8 November:Lost 24-21 to New Zealand
15 November:Lost 31-28 to South Africa
22 November:Won 28-9 against Samoa
29 November:v Australia

Firstly he picked out club team-mate Anthony Watson with a cross-field punt which gave the winger space to draw the cover defence and off-load for Brown.

Then, after a rolling maul had Samoa backpedalling, he injected pace into the backline and good hands from Harlequins trio Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw and Brown put May into the corner.

Samoa's cause had been hampered when Leota earned a yellow card for a crunching high tackle on Ford and his return from the sin bin stemmed England's run of scores.

Instead, the game meandered to a conclusion with several of England's forwards - Dave Attwood and George Kruis in particular - strengthening their claims to starting spot against Australia next week, before Marland Yarde butchered a chance for a late long-range try with Brown outside him and free.

Samoa perform their haka against England
Samoa had threatened to pull out of the match in protest at the pay offered to them by their own union
George Ford makes a break against Samoa
Ford had made four previous England appearances, all as a replacement
England and Samoa link arms after the final whistle
England's players linked arms with their Samoan counterparts on the final whistle in an apparent show of solidarity

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