England served up an emphatic indication of their strength in depth ahead of the World Cup, crushing the Barbarians 73-12 at Twickenham.
Marland Yarde put England ahead early on before Brad Thorn responded. But the hosts took over, with tries from Ed Slater, Jack Clifford and Danny Cipriani and a brace from Christian Wade propelling the Three Lions into a 45-5 lead at the interval.
After the interval, Henry Slade and Josh Beaumont added tries, Wade completed his hat-trick and Cipriani finished the scoring with another try; he totted up a staggering 33 points in the match. Thomas Waldrom scored the Barbarians' only other try at the start of the second half.
Ahead of the match, England head coach Stuart Lancaster encouraged those involved in this encounter to make a major impression with the summer showpiece edging ever closer, per Wasps.co.uk:
This is an exciting group who will be eager to impress in an England shirt with a number of guys having one eye on the World Cup in September.
We know the Barbarians have a large number of experienced guys and they will be ready for us having played Ireland. We are expecting a tough encounter.
They were words that seemed to be heeded from the off, as the hosts played with an encouraging effervescence. It took just 11 minutes for Yarde to put England in front, and although Thorn reduced the deficit to 7-5 a couple of minutes later, for the Baa-Baas, the hosts clearly had too much.
England went on to score five tries in the space of 18 ferocious minutes at the end of the first period. Slater set Lancaster’s men on their way after some brilliant work in the lineout, before Clifford capitalised on more pressure to push the score on to 24-5.
In addition to his try, young Clifford was enjoying an excellent game, as the team’s official Twitter account noted:
There was more punishment to come for the Baa-Baas, as they struggled to contain an incisive England, particularly Wade. The winger was on hand to add the finishing touches to a pair of excellent moves in the 31st and 35th minute; by this point, the Barbarians were in survival mode, with the score at 38-5.
As noted by O2 Sports, with Wade running riot, things were getting a little lopsided:
Before half-time, Cipriani, who had been immaculate in his kicking, was able to get in on the act, taking advantage of excellent pressure from the England forwards with the interval looming. His try made it 45-5 at the break, and the Twickenham crowd were raucous in their approval.
As ESPNScrum.com noted, the fly-half’s ball-striking had been perfect in the opening period:
The pattern of the match didn’t change when play resumed, as England kept a stranglehold on proceedings.
Once again, each side was able to get on the scoreboard at the beginning of the first period, with Slade and Waldrom going over early. Then there was a chance for Wade to complete what would have been a well-deserved hat-trick, as he showcased blistering speed to race clear and into the end zone unopposed.
However, he made a glaring error when tapping down, as we can see here courtesy of EatSleepRugby:
Regardless, with such a substantial lead, England were able to play with a swagger in the latter stages. It was on show not long after Wade’s missed chance, as a through-the-legs pass from Shane Geraghty set Beaumont clear and he put the Three Lions 59-19 ahead.
England still had time to add some more gloss to their display. Wade did get his hat-trick eventually, scurrying onto a loose ball, before Cipriani completed a virtuoso performance with another try in the dying embers; the No. 10 finished up with a brace, 10 conversions and six penalties.
As noted by Laura-Jane Jones of Sky Sports, the performances of Wade and Cipriani will have given Lancaster plenty to ponder moving forward:
The Barabarians—who edged out Ireland prior to this match—weren't at their best here, but the quality of England’s play would have been enough to cause a lot of teams problems. There was so much ingenuity going forward, while the dynamic defending from the likes of Joe Launchbury and Beaumont gave the hosts a real cohesive feel.
What was most encouraging for English supporters was the ruthlessness this team showcased in their finishing, Wade’s second half faux pas aside. If Lancaster’s troops can preserve this clinical streak with tougher challenges to come, they’re going to be a very difficult team to topple in the World Cup.