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England A take Portugal to the cleaners in Leicester

By PA
Will Muir of England pictured after getting injured during the rugby international match between England A and Portugal at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on February 25, 2024 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

England A cruised to a thumping 91-5 victory over Portugal in front of a crowd of 15,123 at Leicester’s Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

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The hosts ran in 15 tries, scored by 12 different players, including a hat-trick for Harlequins’ Cadan Murley.

Exeter’s Josh Hodge crossed once and kicked three conversions, with Charlie Atkinson adding two successful kicks and home favourite Jamie Shillcock three.

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England were already up 50-0 by the halfway point and continued to run riot after the break, but were denied a clean sheet when Portugal fly-half Manuel Vareiro crossed over in the corner for their only points of the afternoon.

George Skivington’s side remained fully in control after that score, dotting down four more times before the final whistle under the watchful eye of England head coach Steve Borthwick.

Bath lock Charlie Ewels captained the England side, with scrum-half Harry Randall, hooker Jamie Blamire, prop Joe Heyes and flanker Tom Pearson rounding out the list of starters who had already earned senior caps.

With Portugal’s best reserved for their Rugby Europe Championships semi-final against Spain next month, the visitors fielded an inexperienced squad and a starting line-up featuring none of the players involved in their historic World Cup victory over Fiji.

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Newcastle Falcons’ Blamire got England off to a flying start, crossing over from a rolling maul inside the opening three minutes before Pearson, Alfie Barbeary, Rus Tuima, Will Muir, Murley, Max Ojomoh and Josh Hodge helped make it a half-century of points by the break.

The uncompromising hosts were awarded a penalty try two minutes after the restart, with Shillcock, Murley (two), Greg Fisilau and Oscar Beard all dotting down in the second half.

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