Gloucester's James Simpson-Daniel grabbed one try in England's 29-5 victory over Canada to book a place in the final of the Churchill Cup against Argentina next weekend.
The start was scrappy by both sides, despite England being clearly dominant in the scrum. Eight minutes in and England's fly half Andy Goode was penalised for not rolling away, giving Canada their first chance of a penalty but it was not to be.
Despite a solid, if unspectacular, initial performance by England, their forwards began to get hold of the game. Dominating possession in their own half and taking advantage of a Canadian offside, Goode had the chance of getting England's first few points on the scoreboard. Surprisingly, the ball went wide.
But 20 minutes in, after a great pass from England centre James Simpson-Daniel, Paul Sackey burst down the wing in an impressive show of speed, to touch down for the first try of the match.
Five minutes later Goode kicked a superb long cross pass to find his Leicester Tigers club mate Sam Vesty at full back, who effortlessly touched down for England's second try. With Goode duly converting, England were 12-0 ahead, thirty minutes into the first half.
Although Canada looked likely to get a try just before half time, in what was developing into a somewhat feisty encounter, England got out of the danger zone and looked likely to score again themselves until Ugo Monye went down from a heavy tackle by Canadian replacement hooker, Peter Densmore, leading to a chance for a Goode penalty from the half way line. Again without success, clearly not quite acclimatising to the KooGa balls, making it still 12-0 to England at half time.
England brought the powerful Ayoola Erinle on at centre in the second half, with the injured Monye not returning, and Simpson-Daniel moving to wing. Canada's fly half Ryan Smith knocked-on a few minutes later but was almost touching down for a try before he realised his wasted effort.
Canada started making a lot of substitutions, after taking a few hard knocks. England brought on the fresh legs of Tom Voyce at full back, replacing Sam Vesty and within minutes Voyce evaded an astonishing seven Canadian players to touch down between the posts. With Goode converting, England had stretched their lead to 19-0.
Ten minutes in and Canada deserved a try but for some sturdy England defence on their opposition try line. Tempers frayed, and American referee Al Klemp sin binned locks Louis Deacon of England and his opposite number Luke Tait. More frustration persisted on both sides, resulting in Andy Goode being sinbinned, making England down to 13 men.
This didn't stop the depleted England pack scoring their fourth try however, when James Simpson Daniel, now at wing, found space in the corner. With James Forrester on to replace number eight Phil Dowson, he wasted little time in impressing, just missing out on a try, again in the corner.
But Canada piled on the pressure and with England still a man down, their number eight Aaron Carpenter piled over to put his side's first points on the board, making it 24-5 to England with just five minutes to go before the final whistle.
England flanker Chris Jones took an injury to his ankle, coming off in the dying minutes but to seal the England victory, captain Pat Sanderson added his five points in the corner to make the final score England 29- Canada 5.
England coach Joe Lydon later commented he thought it was a scrappy England win but a win nevertheless.
"We didn't help ourselves at times and gave away possession, we were a bit disjointed. But nevertheless I thought our discipline was fantastic despite the two sin bins. We knew Canada would play a physical game and I thought James Simpson-Daniel and Tom Voyce played really well. In broken field, James is one of our best runners. Full credit to the forwards too, players such as Perry Freshwater were outstanding. Canada came back with a lot of pride in their performance and England will carry on learning from today's effort."
England fly half Andy Goode paid tribute to some of his fellow players' performance.
"We struggled a bit to get our game going but there was a lot of pace out there. Tom Voyce did really well and set us up well for next week."
For his part, Voyce knew he had a job to do coming off the bench.
"Joe wanted Ayoola Erinle and myself to come off the bench and make an impact today with speed and agility. I felt as fresh today as at the start of the season and it was a great chance for me to try to go further up the ladder for next season. I enjoy playing full back for England but actually don't mind being put anywhere I'm needed."
In today's other game Argentina beat the USA in the dying minutes of the game 34-30 and will now meet England in next Sunday's Churchill Cup final.
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).