• England Saxons v Ireland A

Geraghy stars as Saxons get their revenge

January 31, 2010
England Saxons wing Noah Cato proves elusive during the clash at The Rec © Getty Images

England Saxons battled to a 17-13 victory over Ireland 'A' in their clash at The Rec in Bath.

Fly-half Shane Geraghty steered the hosts to the win with a try, two conversions and a penalty to issue a reminder to England manager Martin Johnson of what he might be missing after the Northampton No.10 was dropped from the senior squad for this year's Six Nations. The Saxons' other try came from another England hopeful in winger David Strettle.

Replacement No.8 Chris Henry grabbed a second half score for the Irish with fly-half Paddy Wallace kicking a conversion and two penalties but they were unable to repeat their 49-22 mauling of the Saxons in final of last summer's Churchill Cup.

The visitors began brightly and took an early lead through a Wallace penalty with the Saxons struggling to settle into their game. Centre Keith Matthews conjured a fine break to expose some defensive concerns for the Saxons but they bounced back with the opening try of the game. A powerful catch and drive took them deep into the Irish 22 before lively scrum-half Ben Youngs darted down the short side to create an opening for Strettle before feeding Strettle who dotted down in the corner. Geraghty nailed the difficult conversion from the touchline to edge the Saxons further ahead.

Irish winger Fionn Carr was the next to carve the Saxons open with worrying ease but scrum-half Peter Stringer was guilty of taking the wrong option that allowed the defence to recover and reclaim the ball. But hands in the ruck by Saxons skipper George Skivington gifted Wallace another shot at the posts which he landed to bring Ireland back to within a point.

Despite their defensive shortcomings, the Saxons were growing in confidence, a fact illustrated by another eye-catching break that saw centre Dominic Waldouck wriggled free before feeding winger Noah Cato who was bundled into touch just short of the line. They were soon back on the front foot with fullback Alex Goode making in-roads before Cato and centre Brad Barritt combined well to allow Geraghty the simple task of sprinting over unopposed.

Geraghty's second successful conversion took the Saxons into a healthy 14-6 lead and with his destructive Saints colleague Phil Dowson causing Ireland all kinds of problems from No.8, the home side continued to threaten. Another penalty, this time against Waldouck for coming in from the side, allowed Wallace the chance to reduce the arrears but he pushed it wide of the posts.

Ireland coach Michael Bradley made two changes for the second period, replacing hooker Rory Best with John Fogarty and sending on lock Ryan Caldwell for Mick O'Driscoll. And England also utilised their bench, with Gloucester back-row forward Luke Narraway, Leicester lock Geoff Parling and Wasps hooker Rob Webber all being given chances to impress.

Ireland 'A' began the second half as they had started the first but they were frustrated by an improved defensive showing from the Saxons. Another sparkling break from Cato was a rare attacking riposte from the Saxons with the Irish exerting more and more pressure which eventually reaped reward.

Saxons prop Paul Doran-Jones was shown a yellow card for killing the ball in the shadow of the posts and from the resulting scrum, Henry powered over with Wallace's conversion making it a one-point game. A tough obstruction call against replacement Darren Cave then gave Geraghty the chance to give his side some breathing space but he pulled his effort wide of the posts.

Back came the Irish again, with a big scrum forcing a turnover that led to a break for the electric Carr but he was felled by a great tap tackle from Geraghty. Ireland 'A' continued to work the Saxons' defence but their eagerness got the better of them with Henry penalised for off-side which allowed Geraghty to close the game out with a penalty.

England Saxons: Alex Goode (Saracens); David Strettle (Harlequins), Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Noah Cato (Saracens); Shane Geraghty (Northampton Saints), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby), David Paice (London Irish), Paul Doran-Jones (Gloucester), Dave Attwood (Gloucester), George Skivington (London Wasps, capt), Tom Wood (Worcester Warriors), Andy Saull (Saracens), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints)

Replacements: Tom Mercey (Saracens), Rob Webber (London Wasps), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Luke Narraway (Gloucester), Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons), Jon Clarke (Northampton Saints), Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors)

Ireland 'A': Gavin Duffy (Connacht); Fionn Carr (Connacht), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Keith Matthews (Connacht), Ian Dowling (Munster); Paddy Wallace (Ulster), Peter Stringer (Munster); Marcus Horan (Munster), Rory Best (Ulster), Tony Buckley (Munster), Mick O'Driscoll (Munster, capt), Devin Toner (Leinster), Shane Jennings (Leinster), Sean O'Brien (Leinster), John Muldoon (Connacht)

Replacements: John Fogarty (Leinster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Ryan Caldwell (Ulster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Isaac Boss (Ulster), Ian Humphreys (Ulster), Darren Cave (Ulster)

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