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England Saxons lift Churchill Cup

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Jordan Crane captained England Saxons to Churchill Cup Final victory over Canada at Sixways, Worcester, on Saturday.

The Leicester Tigers No8 completed his third Churchill Cup campaign unbeaten as Saxons claimed the silverware with a 37-6 victory.

Tigers centre Billy Twelvetrees, who scored in each of the previous two wins, picked up a first his first winner’s medal in national colours.

Second-rower Graham Kitchener, at Sixways for the final time before moving to Welford Road, made his first start of the campaign and fellow summer recruit Micky Young appeared as a second-half replacement.

England enjoyed the major share of possession in the first half and led 15-6 at the break thanks to tries from James Gaskell and Miles Benjamin.

But they were made to fight all the way by a determined and organised Canada side before Benjamin added a second and tries from Charlie Sharples and Jamie Gibson put the game well out of reach.

England’s forwards dominated the opening but had to wait until the 14th minute for the opening points of the game, with Rory Clegg slotting a penalty.

Canada replied with a drop goal from Ander Monro before Gaskell exchanged passes with full-back Mike Brown to score on the right and put England 8-3 ahead.

Less than a minute later, home favourite Benjamin intercepted on halfway and ran in under the posts. The conversion stretched the lead to 15-3.

Canada fought their way back into the game with possession in the Saxons 22 and pegged back three points with a penalty from James Pritchard just before the interval.

Clegg added the first points of the second half with a penalty and then set up the decisive try with a chip off his left foot for Benjamin to take at full stretch and score with almost an hour played. Clegg added the extras for good measure as England led 25-6.

An opportunist try Sharples settled the outcome in the 70th minute, latching on to a kick ahead on the right, then flanker Jamie Gibson added another try after a break by Henry Trinder.

England Saxons
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins)
14 Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby)
13 Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby)
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers)
11 Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors)
10 Rory Clegg (Harlequins)
9 Paul Hodgson (London Irish)
1 Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors)
2 David Paice (London Irish)
3 Matt Stevens (Saracens)
4 Mouritz Botha (Saracens)
5 Graham Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)
6 James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)
7 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
8 Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers) (c)

16 Joe Gray (Harlequins) on for Paice 73min
17 Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby) on for Mullan 70min
18 Jamie Gibson (London Irish) on for Kitchener 59min
19 Carl Fearns (Sale Sharks) on for Johnson 71min
20 Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons) on for Hodgson 71min
21 Alex Goode (Saracens) on for Brown 51min
22 Topsy Ojo (London Irish) on for Ojo 71min

Canada: 15 Matt Evans, 14 Ciaran Hearn, 13 Phil Mackenzie, 12 Ryan Smith, 11 James Pritchard, 10 Ander Monro, 9 Sean White; 1 Hubert Buydens, 2 Pat Riordan (c), 3 Jason Marshall, 4 Brian Erichsen, 5 Jamie Cudmore, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Chauncey O'Toole, 8 Aaron Carpenter. Replacements: 16 Andrew Tiedemann, 17 Scott Franklin, 18 Tyler Hotson, 19 Nanyak Dala, 20 Jamie Mackenzie, 21 Nathan Hirayama, 22 Conor Trainor