What a contrast with last night's opening game. England fans who travelled to Lens for the game were disappointed with a lacklustre performance from the team. It was a slow start, and after the first quarter, it was England 3 USA 3. The Eagles had defended well and had the only chance of a try, before Phil Vickery kicked out and tripped centre Paul Emerick. Vicks has since been cited for the offence and banned for two games.
Olly Barkley was one positive - he had a good game and fully deserved his Man of the Match award. He distributed well, and went over for a try. Despite the spear tackle from Paul Emerick [right] late on, he got up and finished the game. Emerick's World Cup is over after being banned for 5 weeks for the dangerous tackle.
Mike Catt had the chance of a try around the half hour mark, but USA defended well and cleared their lines. USA's Esikia was sent to the bin around the same time, and Olly managed to kick the points. Soon after, Josh Lewsey made a good break, which ended when he tripped over his own feet! However, he managed to offload to Tom Rees, then across to Jason Robinson who crossed the line for England's 100th World Cup try. Barkley's conversion attempt floated wide.
Just before half time, Mike Hercus attempted a drop goal, which was collected by Mark Cueto, then passed off to Olly Barkley who crossed over for a morale-boosting try.
[Olly Barkley clears the ball close to his own lines]
In the second half, Tom Rees [left] darted over the line for a score with Barkley kicking the extras. However, the rest of the England team were sloppy and kept making silly mistakes. They were never really dominant in the scrum, and Mark Regan's throwing wasn't terribly accurate. George Chuter didn't do much better when he came on. Perhaps Lee Mears would have been a better bet?
The Eagles' Blake Burdette nearly got a try, but Mark Cueto saved the day. Lawrence Dallaglio was sent off at 73 minutes, for lying on the ball. He hadn't played well anyway, looking sluggish and out of form. [right, one of Dallaglio's few high points in the game]
Replacement prop Matekitonga Moeakiola made it over the line for a well-deserved score just after, with Hercus hitting the conversion. Andy Farrell made a decent break during the dying moments of the game - he looked reasonably sharp when he came on as a replacement with some of the other heavy brigade.
So, England won 28-10, but it was far from pretty. They'll have to do a lot better next Friday if they're going to get another win against South Africa. Pull your socks up, lads!