England Saxons 28-20 Argentina Jaguars, Churchill Cup
Saxons battle past Jaguars in Denver
June 6, 2009
England Saxons' Shane Geraghty exploits a gap in the Agrentina Jaguars' defence © Getty Images
Second-half tries from Matt Smith, Tom Varndell and man-of-the-match Joe Simpson put the Saxons in front in the second half after a first half blighted by errors.
In a physical encounter the two sides were at loggerheads in the first half, with only penalties troubling the scoreboard.
England's Danny Cipriani, overlooked for both the British and Irish Lions tour and the senior side's Test series against Argentina, kicked three points for the champions while two penalties from Martin Rodriguez sent the teams in at the interval with the Jaguars holding a 6-3 lead.
The Saxons added a further penalty and two conversions in the second half from the boot of Cipriani and a drop goal from replacement fly-half Stephen Myler. England's second-half revival saw lively debutant Smith cross over under the posts after receiving an inside pass from Shane Geraghty.
But Argentina were never far behind and, after another England error, Rodriguez slotted a penalty to take his count to three and the score to 10-9. The referee was kept busy, with both sides adding another penalty to their tallies as England hung on to their slim advantage.
It took Simpson to give the Saxons some breathing space, the scrum-half popping up from the back of a scrum to run over on the outside, taking the lead out to 20-12. Argentina were not finished, though, and crossed for a first try in the 63rd minute through replacement number 18 Tomas Roan to take them back to within three points, although the conversion was missed.
Varndell restored England's eight-point lead in the 70th minute, making a short, 10-metre dash for the line after grabbing the ball from the ruck. And a drop goal by Myler on the whistle cemented victory for the Saxons after the Jaguars had slotted over another penalty.
Simpson was voted man-of-the-match and said afterwards that the heat had been a big factor. "It is hard work in such heat. The altitude also plays a part, it really takes the puff out of you.
"Argentina put up a fight. It was only in the last couple of minutes that we managed to finish the game off. We look ahead to next week now and stepping up a gear. I thought the support we had today was fantastic and I think the crowd will grow for our match next Sunday with USA."
England Saxons: Nick Abendanon (Bath), Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers),Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps), Shane Geraghty (London Irish),Matt Smith (Leicester Tigers), Danny Cipriani (London Wasps), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), David Flatman (Bath), Rob Webber (London Wasps), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Peter Short (Bath), Stuart Hooper ( Bath, capt), Chris Jones (Sale Sharks), Ben Woods (Leicester Tigers), Luke Narraway (Gloucester)
Replacements: Tom Mercey (Saracens), Mark Lambert (Harlequins), Neil Briggs (Sale Sharks), Tom Guest (Harlequins), Phil Dowson (Newcastle Falcons), Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
Argentina Jaguars: Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga, Francisco Merello, Matías Viazzo, Horacio San Martin, Tomás De Vedia, Ignacio Mieres, Martín Landajo, Juan Figallo, Agustín Creevy (c), Pedro Ledesma, Mariano Galarza, Carlos Cáceres, Alejandro Campos Tomás Leonardi, Leonardo Senatore,
Replacements: Juan Gómez, Mauricio Guidone, Tomás Roan, Agustín Guzmán, Francisco Cubelli, Benjamín Urdapilleta, Lucas Barrera Oro.