LONDON (Reuters) - Livewire wing Elliot Daly scored two excellent tries as England overcame a stodgy middle period to produce another strong finish and beat Samoa 48-14 to complete a hat-trick of victories in their autumn internationals on Saturday.
Mike Brown, Alex Lozowski and Charlie Ewels had a somewhat experimental England 22-7 ahead at halftime and they piled on the points in the final quarter as Daly, twice, Henry Slade and Semesa Rokoduguni completed the rout.
It was far from plain-sailing, however, as England were second-best at the breakdown all day and for long periods struggled to impose themselves on a team beaten by Romania last week.
“It was a bit of a muddling performance from us,” England coach Eddie Jones said. “We started well but got a bit seduced by the perceived easiness of the game and got hauled back.
“We have a hell of a lot of work to do, we don’t have the consistency of doing the small things right, but we’ve got time to get it right.”
Despite the blips, the result meant that, after victories over Argentina and Australia, Jones’s record with England is now 22 wins from 23 games – the only setback being the Six Nations loss to Ireland in March.
England got all the calls from the TMO in their win over Australia last week and the same man – Ireland’s Simon McDowell – was on their side again on Saturday when he dismissed a possible knock on en route to Brown’s opening try after 90 seconds.
They added a second through new centre Lozowski after good work by hooker Jamie George, making his first start after 19 appearances off the bench, but Jones will not be pleased with the soft defending that allowed Piula Fa’asalele to put Samoa on the board, before Ewels blasted over.
Just as in the opening November test against Argentina, England, and the crowd, went into snooze mode through the third quarter, before getting a grip and running amok.
Daly got things moving after a defence-splitting delayed pass by George Ford on the hour then replacement scrumhalf Ben Youngs sent Slade over.
Samoa showed admirable grit to keep going when down to 14 men after a yellow card for Fa’asalele and were rewarded when captain Chris Vui extended a telescopic arm to score their second try as for once the TMO ruled against the hosts.
Daly then delivered the try of the day, slipping through a tackle then putting on the after-burners to leave defenders trailing in an exhilarating 40-metre diagonal run to the line, with Rokoduguni completing the scoring at the death.
“We were not clinical enough, our discipline let us down, there were lots of small things,” said captain Dylan Hartley.
“We talked about doing the basics really well early on and we didn’t do that and Samoa got ball in hand and like an open game.
“But we tested the depth of the squad today and this was always going to be a difficult game and we’ve learned a few things.”
Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Rex Gowar