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Flying start builds Saxons confidence

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Jordan Crane and Billy Twelvetrees are determined to lift the Churchill Cup after getting off to a flying start with England Saxons.

Leicester Tigers No8 Crane captained the Saxons to an 87-8 win over the USA at Northampton on Saturday, and centre Twelvetrees claimed the man-of-the-match award and one of the 13 tries.

“In the first 20 minutes I was wondering if I was going to get into the game, but the team was going well and the scrum was almost running forward with the ball,” said Twelvetrees after his third appearance in Saxons colours this season.

“In the second half the backs got more of the ball. We wanted to play with some width, we’ve got a lot of pace in the backline and we wanted to use it.

“The surprising thing is just how quickly we all gelled this week – we’ve got a gameplan, we stick to it and it worked.

“It’s nice to get the man-of-the-match award, but it was a great team effort. I couldn’t believe one of the front row didn’t get it seeing as the scrums were going forward about 30 metres each time!

“It’s a great experience to have a first taste of the Churchill Cup but now we want to win next week and the week after.”

Crane learned on Thursday that he would captain the side when Luke Narraway was ruled out by a calf injury and he retained his record of never being on the losing side in a Churchill Cup match.

“We played some really good rugby and that is testament to the guys getting together so quickly and the coaches letting us go out and play,” Crane said, playing in his third Churchill Cup.

“It’s a great statement for the rest of the tournament and a good sign for the young guys coming through. We have to win this competition because we are clear favourites. We have to keep playing our rugby and keep our game going.

“We had a few errors in our control in the first half but we had the composure to keep the ball in the right areas and play to the gameplan and not just throw the ball around like a Sevens tournament.

“The scrum was so dominant that I think it was hard for their boys to get up from that and as the game wore on we were able to set our backs free and they ran in the points. It was a good day all round.”

Crane showed admirable control at the base of a pack rumbling forward at scrums, to the extent that referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try just before half-time as the USA backpedalled.

“I was just disappointed he blew up because I was going over!” he said.

England face Tonga in their second fixture at Gloucester next Sunday.