Rugby Union

Stuart Lancaster impressed with debutants

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Stuart Lancaster was impressed by debutant centres Sam Burgess and Henry Slade after England emerged 19-14 winners over France in a nervy opening World Cup warm-up fixture.

Anthony Watson crossed twice and Jonny May also ran in a try as the Red Rose marked their 100th meeting with RBS 6 Nations rivals France by recording a sixth successive victory at Twickenham.

All the pre-match attention focused on Burgess who was making his international union debut just 10 months after leaving league and the 26-year-old made his presence felt with some crunching hits at inside centre.

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But he was eclipsed by Slade, who showed the clever hands and game management that have been his calling card at Exeter.

"Sam was good. He would have been disappointed to get sin-binned but I thought his decision making on when to pass and when to carry was good and his defensive physicality was good," Lancaster said.

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"He translated what he did in training into the game which is a hard thing to do on his first cap but he did well. He's prepared to get off the line and hits people.

"It was nice to see him take his opportunity, I thought he played well and made some good decisions on the ball.

"He worked well in terms of how we want to play the game, in tandem with Owen Farrell. it was a good start for him."

England's scratch backline functioned superbly given it was their first outing after a long pre-season with wings May and Watson putting themselves in pole position to start in the World Cup opener against Fiji, while Alex Goode excelled at full-back.

"Anthony and Jonny have been excellent in training and it was good to see them deliver what they've been doing in training into the games," Lancaster said.

"They were both sharp and took their tries well. Alex Goode was excellent. He's an accomplished full-back and has played at the highest level. I thought he played well.

"I was delighted with Alex, the two centres, the two wings looked sharp and in the first-half we had good set piece ball."

Number eight Ben Morgan was replaced at half time of his first appearance since breaking his leg in January but Lancaster revealed it was a pre-planned substitution.

Prop Kieran Brookes departed with a wrist injury but the injury is not thought to be serious.

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Topics:
Rugby Union
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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