It wasn’t the easiest of victories, but it was a win at least.
England followed up their record triumph over Australia with a relatively uninspiring 26-13 defeat of a stubborn Samoa side.
The minnows had threatened to completely halt England’s momentum when Paul Williams crossed for the visitors to give them an 8-6 lead in the second-half.
Awoken from their stupor, Martin Johnson’s men swiftly responded and tries from Matt Banahan and Tom Croft plus the boot of Toby Flood, who converted both scores and kicked four penalties, alleviated England supporters’ worries.
Samoa’s Fautua Otto scored a late consolation try to make the score a little more respectable for the southern hemisphere side but it mattered little as England had already secured victory by then.
Johnson, by his own admittance, has said that the tough win will be more beneficial to England in the long run than if his side had walked through the south sea islanders.
However, it proves that England still have a lot of work to do if they want to be considered serious contenders for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Yes, England fielded a weakened side as Mike Tindall and skipper Lewis Moody were rested, whilst Croft and Dan Cole did not appear until midway through the second-half.
The nucleus of the team was kept together though as Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto remained in the back three along with the half-backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs and the second row partnership of Courtney Lawes and Tom Palmer.
Of the players that Johnson should be building a team around, only Cueto and Flood have significant international experience and there are several more players in the squad, including Saturday’s man-of-the-match Shontayne Hape, who have made their full international debuts in these autumn internationals.
Cutting your teeth against the likes of New Zealand and Australia is not a bad way to start your international career and what’s more Johnson’s young guns proved themselves – despite the defeat to the All Blacks.
It might be unfair to say that England did not take the game against the Samoans as seriously as in the previous two weeks.
Irrespective of their mentality, Saturday’s performance has shown that England can go to the trenches and still come out victorious.
The Red Rose are going in the right direction – and they will be a better team because of the win against the Samoans