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Ellis steers England U20 to opening victory

England U20, led by Wasps' Hugo Ellis, opened their Junior World Cup campaign with a stunning six try first half to set up a 41-17 win over Fiji at Rodney Parade, Newport on Friday night.

Ellis leads his team

Ellis leads his team

England captian Ellis was joined by fellow Wasps Joe Simpson and Mark Odejobi in the U20 starting line up.

Worcester Warriors' winger Miles Benjamin demonstrated the finishing power that saw him star in the Guinness Premiership this season as England opened their Junior World Championship campaign in style against Fiji.

Benjamin scored two of England's sublime six first-half tries with Noah Cato and Alex Goode (both Saracens), and Seb Stegmann (both Harlequins) also touching down.

Goode finished with 16 points from his try, penalty and four conversions but England went off the boil in the second half, conceding three tries in the final quarter as Fiji threw caution to the wind.

Peni Rokodiva, Waqabaqa Kotobalavu and William Saukuru all touched down and Alex Rokobaro converted.

There were five changes to the England side that completed a Grand Slam of RBS Six Nations victories in March with Leeds Carnegie flanker Calum Clark the only new cap.

He was joined by Miles Benjamin, Jordan Turner-Hall, Ben Thomas and Scott Freer as England kicked off wearing their blue change strip to avoid a colour clash with their opponents.

England had a few problems of their own making, particularly in the early lineouts, protecting their kickers and with a few over-ambitious passes.

But any minor niggles were overshadowed by some sensational attacking movement that created six first half tries.

Benjamin and Cato - just as they did in the Six Nations - set the ball rolling with two tries in the first 15 minutes, the first created by Clark and Simpson's work down the blindside, the second by Ellis and Fisher.

Goode added a conversion and penalty, then supplied the extra points to his own try after Simpson spotted an undefended area before tapping and going.

Benjamin's second try on the half-hour was a powerful finish after Stegmann opened up Fiji with his break down the right and the Harlequins winger then finished the best score of the game, an 80 metre effort started by Cato's cruising run with prop Nathan Catt up to supply the final pass.

Turner-Hall picked the perfect line to cut through an overworked defence just before the interval with Goode converting to put England 41 points clear.

England dominated the third quarter without reproducing their early incisive attacks before Fiji enjoyed their best spell of the game, running from deep and scoring twice in five minutes.

Replacement scrum half Rokodiva struck after Jack Lalai's drive down the left and substitute flanker Kotobalavu twisted over after a lineout drive.

Saukuru added Fiji's third after replacement Alex Tait was left with too many attackers to deal with three minutes from time with hooker Joe Gray off the field in the sin-bin.

Ellis and Simpson take on Fiji last Friday

Ellis and Simpson take on Fiji last Friday

The second half was aptly summed up in the time remaining as England kept up the pressure without being able to unpick their opponents' defence again.

But coach Mark Mapletoft insists there is plenty to build on before the remaining Pool C games against Canada at Rodney Parade on June 10 (5pm) and Australia (June 14).

Mapletoft said: 'To say it was a game of two halves sums it up perfectly but to score six tries against Southern Hemisphere opposition in 40 minutes is a huge positive.

'At the start of the second half we had some chances then lost that cutting edge and that maybe contributeda to a loss of concentration and contributed to Fiji battling their way back into the game

'We'll be positive. We scored good tries from all over the field and looked sharp and enthusiastic. In the first 10 minutes of the second half we had three or four opportunities but just couldn't get people on the end of them.

'The big thing now for the guys is Canada on Tuesday and they showed their spirit and battling qualities against Australia. As coaches we also have to look ahead to Australia, as it looks like being the key game, but we certainly will give Canada the respect they are due.'

Captain Hugo Ellis (London Wasps) was equally positive about the tries scored and chances created, particularly when England counter-attacked from deep.

Ellis said: 'We'd set our stall out to come out and throw down a marker for the tournament and we played some outstanding rugby.

'After half-time we made some mistakes, made some changes and struggled with the pace Fiji were able to put on the game.

'We're disappointed we didn't put Fiji to bed but in that first half we did play some spectacular stuff. There are an awful lot of positives to come out of that game.'

England U20: Noah Cato (Saracens); Seb Stegmann (Harlequins), Mark Odejobi (London Wasps), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors); Alex Goode (Saracens), Joe Simpson (London Wasps); Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby), Scott Freer (Leeds Carnegie), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Scott Hobson (Cornish Pirates), Ben Thomas (Saracens), Jon Fisher (London Irish), Calum Clark (Leeds Carnegie), Hugo Ellis (London Wasps, captain).

Replacements: Joe Gray (Northampton Saints) for Freer 60, Billy Moss (Bath Rugby) for Corbisiero 60, Matthew Cox (Worcester Warriors) for Clark 41, Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) for Simpson 67, Rob Miller (Newcastle Falcons) for Odejobi 54, Alex Tait (Newcastle Falcons) for Cato 41, Freer for Ellis 77.

Scorers: Tries: Benjamin 2, Cato, Goode, Stegmann, Turner-Hall. Conversions: Goode 4. Penalty: Goode.

Yellow card: Gray 76.

Fiji: Alex Rokobaro; William Saukuru, Isikeli Vuruna, Eroni Tara, Wiliame Umu; Anare Vakawaletabua, Vuga Tagicakibau; Seru Qaranivalu, Saula Qalomai, Jack Lalai, Temo Vakaloloma, Tevita Tuiloa, Ratu Levula, Jese Ciriksuva, Samuela Vunisa.

Replacements: Waqabaca Kotobalavu for Tuiloa, Uraia Verenadavui for Levula 54, Peni Rokodiva for Tagicakibau 54, Pate Kocoturaga for Umu 46.

Scorers: Tries: Rokodiva, Kotobalavu, Sakuru. Conversion: Rokobaro.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland).

Team to face Canada on Tuesday


Four players make their first starts of the season for the England Under 20 side in tomorrow's Junior World Championship Pool C game against Canada.

Bath prop Billy Moss, Northampton lock Courtney Lawes, Newcastle centre Alex Tait and Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples have all been named in the side for the game at Rodney Parade (5pm).

England opened the tournament by scoring six tries in a 41-17 win over Fiji, while the Canadians were beaten 81-12 by Australia.

Others starting their first game of the tournament are Luke Eves (Bristol), Rob Miller (Newcastle), Ben Youngs and Gregor Gillanders (both Leicester), Joe Gray (Northampton) and Matthew Cox (Worcester).

Coach Nigel Redman's side go on to face Australia on June 14 at Newport and almost certainly need to win all three of their Pool C games to book a semi-final place against Pool B winners ' likely to be South Africa ' at the Arms Park in Cardiff on June 18.

England Under 20
15 Noah Cato (Saracens); 14 Mark Odejobi (London Wasps), 13 Luke Eves (Bristol Rugby), 12 Alex Tait (Newcastle Falcons), 11 Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby); 10 Rob Miller (Newcastle Falcons), 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); 1 Billy Moss (Bath Rugby), 2 Joe Gray (Northampton Saints), 3 Scott Freer (Leeds Carnegie), 4 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), 5 Gregor Gillanders (Leicester Tigers), 6 Jon Fisher (London Irish), 7 Matthew Cox (Worcester Warriors), 8 Hugo Ellis (London Wasps, captain)

Replacements
16 James Clark (London Irish), 17 Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), 18 Ben Thomas (Saracens), 19 Scott Hobson (Cornish Pirates), 20 Joe Simpson (London Wasps), 21 Alex Goode (Saracens), 22 Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors)