England’s inexperienced squad started their summer together with a composed victory over the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium.
A first-half try from Nathan Earle and the boot of George Ford pushed them into a 13-0 lead largely against the run of possession.
In the second the Barbarians struck back through Adam Ashley-Cooper while Ford’s accuracy off the tee kept the hosts ahead. Final tries from Nick Isiekwe and Danny Care sealed an impressive victory.
The result should please England’s head coach Eddie Jones, however it came at a price with Sam Underhill and Alex Lozowski both leaving the field injured.
The Barbarians now head to face Ulster on Thursday while England’s full touring squad for Argentina will be named on Monday.
In the sunshine the Barbarians set out their stall on three minutes when Timoci Nagusa flew from behind his own line, beat four defenders and offloaded up on the half-way line. It ultimately came to nothing but set their tone well.
For 16 minutes the invitational side continued to test England’s defence and turned down opportunities for three points – clearly their order of the day was to be tries or nothing.
Despite all of the early pressure, it was England who opened their account first. Jonny May went from deep and then the home side’s backs showed what electric hands and raw pace can do.
Newly onto the field Mike Haley combined with club mate Sam James and Nathan Earle to toy with the Barbarians’ defence and finish the score out wide.
Ford added the conversion and against the run of play England found themselves 7-0 ahead approaching 20 minutes.
In a fast and open game further chances were missed at both ends due to handling errors and the next points arrived from the boot of Ford after Gillian Galan was penalised for a high hit on Mike Brown.
A shoulder injury forced Underhill off three minutes before the break and Ford finished the half with another penalty to put England 13-0 ahead.
The Barbarians struck first in the second half and their opening-try of the afternoon was upstaged slightly by a fan in the crowd proposing to his girlfriend.
While she said yes, Adam Ashley-Cooper finished their five-pointer with scintillating pace and Ian Madigan added the extras.
Ford nudged England’s scoreboard out to 16-7 before Jeremy Thrush added to the Barbarians’ tally of near misses as he knocked on a few metres out.
Referee Andrew Brace handed Mikheil Nariashvili a yellow card at the set-piece due to consistent infringements, however England didn’t capitalise while the Georgian was off the field.
Tom Curry, who went on to be named Man of the Match, had proved to be a nuisance at the breakdown ever since he arrived on the field for Underhill and his steal resulting in a sniping break from Care and Nick Isiekwe dotting down for his first international try.
The Barbarians continued to drive forwards and it resulted in a consolation score. This time they those to keep it tight and captain Thierry Dusautoir found Joe Tekori much to the delight of the 51,636 in the crowd.
However, England’s half-backs had the last word as Ford released Care under huge pressure to score in the corner, and Eddie Jones’ young side showed exactly what they can do on the Twickenham turf.
Tries: Earle, Isiekwe, Care
Cons: Ford 2
Pens: Ford 3
Tries: Ashley-Cooper, Tekori
Cons: Madigan 2
Yellow Card: Nariashvili