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Joe Cokanasiga marks first Test in 22 months with brace as England beat the USA

By PA
Joe Cokanasiga runs riot /PA

Joe Cokanasiga toasted his first Test in 22 months with a smart brace as England overcame the USA 43-29 at Twickenham.

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England might have been missing their British and Irish Lions contingent, but Eddie Jones’ men still eased past their west London visitors.

Marcus Smith capped an assured debut at fly-half with a try, with Sam Underhill, Ollie Lawrence, Jamie Blamire and Harry Randall also crossing for the hosts.

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Warren Gatland full of praise for Josh Adams as he scores 4 tries | Lions Tour 2021 | RugbyPass

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Warren Gatland full of praise for Josh Adams as he scores 4 tries | Lions Tour 2021 | RugbyPass

Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, Cam Dolan, Hanco Germishuys and Christian Dyer forced scores for the spirited USA however, in a match that broke up considerably in the second half.

Bath wing Cokanasiga’s last international appearance had come against the USA at the 2019 World Cup, where he suffered a serious knee injury.

After battling back to fitness and form this season, though, the Fiji-born powerhouse marked his Test return with two well-taken scores.

Max Malins suffered an arm injury and was sporting a sling on the bench in the second half, while Lawrence was forced out due to a head knock.

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England v USA - Summer Series 2021 - Twickenham Stadium

Head coach Jones had only opted to put two backs on England’s bench, forcing Wasps half-backs Jacob Umaga and Dan Robson to operate out of position.

Fly-half Umaga had to fill in at centre, while scrum-half Robson deputised on the wing.

Lions tours hand England coaches one chance every four years to cast the Test selection net to otherwise impossible widths.

England v USA - Summer Series 2021 - Twickenham Stadium

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But by declining to select a specialist back-three replacement, and with injuries to Malins and Lawrence, Jones was unable to see either Umaga or Robson in their natural positions.

The talented Wasps duo will hope for a chance to impress in their regular berths in next weekend’s Test against Canada.

The visitors took an unlikely lead through Luke Carty’s well-struck penalty, when Joe Heyes was pinged at a scrum.

England’s riposte was immediate, however, Malins fielding the restart before feeding Underhill who powered into the corner.

England v USA - Summer Series 2021 - Twickenham Stadium

Smith hooked the conversion, in his only off-kilter moment of a fine first half.

Malins picked up his shoulder problem in the act of creating the score though, and was forced out of the clash.

Umaga slotted into the centres with Lawrence out to the wing.

And Worcester powerhouse Lawrence quickly stormed into the corner, courtesy of Freddie Steward’s well-timed scoring pass.

England v USA - Summer Series 2021 - Twickenham Stadium

Cokanasiga then bagged his first try, latching onto Steward’s neat grubber after Randall’s pacy break.

The Bath wing doubled his tally on the half-hour, benefiting from Smith’s delayed pass as the USA defence crumbled.

Lawrence and USA full-back Marcel Brache were then forced out of the contest after a nasty-looking accidental clash of heads.

That pressed replacement scrum-half Robson into action on the wing.

The hosts were in total control with their 26-3 half-time lead, however.

Flanker Fa’anana-Schultz capped a well-constructed driven maul to hand the USA first blood in the second half.

England v USA - Summer Series 2021 - Twickenham Stadium

Carty missed the conversion, but the visitors had immediately cut England’s lead to 26-8.

Newcastle hooker Blamire made a quick introduction to Test rugby to put England back on the front foot, forcing a charge down and then completing a smart score.

Number eight Dolan forced a charge down of his own, however, for the USA’s second try.

Randall was left exposed with no forward guarding his box kick, and Dolan pounced for a soft try from England’s perspective.

Carty’s conversion cut England’s lead to 31-15.

Smith tiptoed in for England’s sixth try, relieving growing tension as the hosts had slipped off the pace.

The Harlequins fly-half missed the conversion, leaving England ahead 36-15.

Randall stepped home for England’s seventh score, with Smith converting from under the posts.

Germishuys powered in for the USA’s third score as England continued to struggle to contain the visitors’ tight game.

Carty slotted a fine touchline conversion, with England leading 43-22.

And the USA powered in again at the death, with Dyer racing in the visitors’ fourth score.

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Jon 2 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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