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Crane helps Saxons to impressive win

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Jordan Crane maintained his 100-per-cent record in an England Saxons shirt in a 32-5 victory over Ireland A in Belfast. The Leicester Tigers No.8, who also started the previous week's 34-5 win over Italy A, played the full 80 minutes as England pulled away from their hosts in the closing stages at Ravenhill.

Ireland - captained by Leicester lock Leo Cullen and with Ian Humphreys making his debut at this level and Shane Jennings appearing as a first-half replacement - registered a try through Leinster wing Rob Kearney, while the Saxons points came from Dylan Hartley, James Haskell, David Strettle and Richard Wigglesworth, plus three conversions and a penalty from Shane Geraghty, and a drop goal from captain Mike Catt.

Crane said: "It was close all through the first half but as the second half wore on our experience began to show.  At half-time we just tried to stay patient and we knew it would come.

"The Irish had some quick backs but for most of the game our forwards managed to stop them getting too much ball and limit their threats. I thought our defence was really good, just like last week. Our win was built on our defence."

Geraghty opened the scoring with a 16th-minute penalty before Northampton hooker Hartley grabbed the opening try. This was quickly matched by Kearney's reply as England led 8-5 at half-time.

The second half was a different story, though, as England played the corners, kept the pressure off their own line and ran in three tries in the last 20 minutes, to the delight of coaches Jim Mallinder and Dorian West.

Former Tigers and England hooker West said: "I'm very pleased with the result, it was a convincing win. Although we lacked composure at times, we were confident from the off and you could see the players were really up for it. There were a lot of good performances, from individuals and collectively. You have to put players in situations like this to learn more about them."
England Saxons

Mike Brown (NEC Harlequins), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Chev Walker (Bath Rugby), Mike Catt (London Irish, captain), David Strettle (NEC Harlequins), Shane Geraghty (London Irish), Pete Richards (Gloucester Rugby), Tim Payne (London Wasps), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Stuart Turner (Sale Sharks), Dean Schofield (Sale Sharks), Alex Brown (Gloucester Rugby), Chris Jones (Sale Sharks), James Scaysbrook (Bath Rugby), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)

Replacements: James Haskell (London Wasps) for Chris Jones 33mins, Andy Titterrell (Sale Sharks) for Dylan Hartley 66mins, Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby) for Stuart Turner 71mins, Ben Woods (Newcastle Falcons) for James Scaysbrook 73mins, Richard Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks) for Peter Richards 73mins, Olly Barkley (Bath Rugby) for Mike Catt 74mins. Not used: Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)
Ireland A

Danny Riordan (Galwegians/Connacht), Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins), Barry Murphy (U.L. Bohemians/Munster), Kieran Lewis (St.Mary's College/Leinster), Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster), Ian Humphreys (Leicester Tigers), Conor O'Loughlin (Buccaneers/Connacht), Ronnie McCormack (UCD/Leinster), Frankie Sheahan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Bryan Young (Ballymena/Ulster), Trevor Hogan (Shannon/Leinster), Leo Cullen (Leicester Tigers, captain), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), Keith Gleeson (St.Mary's College/Leinster), Roger Wilson (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)

Replacements: Shane Jennings (Leicester Tigers) for Keith Gleeson 33 mins, Peter Bracken (London Wasps) for Ronnie McCormack 40mins, Bernard Jackman (Clontarf/Leinster) for Frankie Sheahan 53mins, David Gannon (Connacht) for Stephen Ferris 77mins, Kieran Campbell (Dungannon/Ulster) for Conor O'Loughlin 77mins, John Hearty (Galwegians/Connacht) for Barry Murphy 77mins, Johnny Sexton (St.Mary's College/Leinster) for Ian Humphreys 77mins.