Cokanasiga double guides England past the United States

·3-min read

Winger Joe Cokanasiga marked his first Test in nearly two years with two tries as England beat the United States 43-29 at Twickenham on Sunday.

Eddie Jones' hosts ran in seven tries and were 26-3 ahead at half-time with Sam Underhill and Ollie Lawrence crossing before Cokanasiga touched down twice in front of a Covid-reduced crowd of some 10,000.

Jamie Blamire went over in a second half when debutant fly-half Marcus Smith, fresh from helping Harlequins win a thrilling Premiership final, also scored a try as part of his 13-point haul.

But the United States, in their first Test since the 2019 World Cup in Japan where England were the losing finalists, rallied in the second half.

An impressive forward effort was rewarded with tries for Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz, Cam Dolan, Hanco Germishuys and Christian Dyer.

- 'Really pleased' -

"I am really pleased, 12 new caps, it was a great day for rugby with spectators at the ground," England coach Jones told Channel 4.

"As we got loose they got stronger, and full credit to USA," the veteran Australian boss added ahead of next week's match against Canada.

US coach Gary Gold was pleased by his side's resilience in a match that marked their return to Test rugby following the coronavirus pandemic.

"I was very encouraged under the circumstances, given the adversity we've been through," said Gold.

"Things could have gone belly-up, especially when we were 29-3 down at half-time.

"I think the other thing I'm very encouraged about is that it showed the world that Major League Rugby is going in the right direction.

"And it's helping us to be able to prepare our players in a better way."

England, without 12 players on British and Irish Lions duty in South Africa, had eight debutants in their starting lineup -- including captain Lewis Ludlow.

This was England's first match since they finished a disappointing fifth in the 2021 Six Nations, but on US Independence Day Luke Carty kicked the Eagles into a sixth-minute lead with a long-range penalty.

England hit back immediately, Max Malins fielding the ball from the restart before sending in back-row Underhill.

Malins suffered a shoulder injury creating the try and was replaced by Wasps' Jacob Umaga, the nephew of former New Zealand captain Tana Umaga who was making his England debut.

Lawrence powered over for his first international try after a well-timed pass by Freddie Steward, with Smith adding the difficult conversion.

Cokanasiga, whose last Test was against the United States at the World Cup two years ago, then collected Steward's grubber.

Smith's delayed pass sent Bath winger Cokanasiga in for his second try on the half-hour.

The visitors hit back early in the second half when Fa'anana-Schultz went over from a driving maul.

Replacement hooker Blamire then scored England's fifth try following a charge down before No. 8 Dolan responded for the Eagles.

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

Well-taken tries from half-backs Smith and Randall put England comfortably ahead again before Germishuys and Dyer ensured the Eagles finished strongly ahead of next week's clash with Ireland.