(Reuters) - England’s fringe test players proved to coach Stuart Lancaster he was on the right track to build depth as he prepares for next year’s World Cup with a 38-7 victory over the seven-times Super Rugby champion Canterbury Crusaders in Christchurch on Tuesday.
The visitors, who have spent most of the tour holding tackle bags for the test side, scored six tries - four in the first half - while flyhalf Danny Cipriani slotted three conversions before he was substituted early in the second half.
Crusaders’ flanker Matt Todd, who replaced captain George Whitelock when he suffered a head knock in the first half, scored his side’s only try, which was converted by Tom Taylor.
“I was pleased for all 23 lads. I was desperate for them to do well because they have worked hard for us,” Lancaster said in a televised interview.
”They were patient and waited for their opportunity and I was hoping they would put in a performance that would make them proud and I thought they delivered that.
“I keep coming back to the bigger picture and what we’re trying to do and get the squad ready for a World Cup in 12 months time and today was a great marker for us.”
England showed a willingness to spread the ball wide and play the game at pace, while their forwards’ superior size and the team’s rush defensive system put pressure on the Crusaders and forced them into errors and turnovers.
They scored four tries in the first half to hooker Joe Gray, winger Ben Foden, inside centre Brad Barritt and fullback Alex Goode, with Cipriani converting three to go into the break with a handy 26-7 lead.
The match descended into an arm-wrestle in the second half with England winger Anthony Watson’s try in the 59th minute the only scoring action before replacement Chris Pennell scored the sixth and final try after the fulltime hooter.
It was England’s first win on the tour after they lost the first two matches to the All Blacks and will no doubt give the test side hope ahead of the third and final match in Hamilton on Saturday.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien