Ten-try England click into gear

(Rugby News Service) Saturday 24 September 2011
Ten-try England click into gear
Chris Ashton scores his second try as England overwhelm Romania

DUNEDIN, 24 Sept. - Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton ran in hat-tricks as England beat Romania 67-3 to answer their own harshest critics - themselves.

Captain Lewis Moody said his players needed to make a statement at Otago Stadium after what they felt was indifferent form so far.

“We had a point to prove to ourselves today and we have gone some way towards doing that,” he said. “We kept the ball in hand very well and did the basics right. Romania put up a very physical challenge but we weathered it.”

It was the first time England have had multiple hat-trick scorers in a World Cup match as the backs cut loose with an ambition that was clear from the outset.

Cueto and Ashton combined for five tries before the break as England reached half-time 34-3 ahead with a bonus point secured.

The backline continued to torment Romania after the interval, Ben Youngs going over a minute after the restart before Manu Tuilagi supplied the scoring pass for Ben Foden.

Twelve-minute hat-trick

Tuilagi, who was dangerous throughout, broke through himself for a well-deserved try to bring up England’s half-century of points.

Tom Croft sealed a fine game with the ninth try in the 68th minute, before Ashton completed his hat-trick. Toby Flood, on for Jonny Wilkinson, converted to complete the scoring.

England had opened the scoring just two minutes after kick-off when Wilkinson slotted a penalty. Man of the match Cueto scored his hat-trick in the space of just 12 minutes, his first coming on the quarter-hour mark when Wilkinson and Ashton combined to send him in at the corner.

Seven minutes later England created an overlap for Cueto to score his second, Wilkinson this time slotting the conversion, and it was then the loose forwards' turn to set him up, James Haskell and Croft combining to set up the third.

Ashton then crossed to bring up the bonus point, then added his second, converted by Wilkinson.

In the 38th minute, Marin Danut Dumbrava finally got Romania on the scoreboard with a penalty, but then hit a post with another on the stroke of half-time.

Attacking aside, England coach Martin Johnson will doubtless be pleased with the way the defence repelled the Romanians for several phases on their own line midway through the second half.

RNS ig