England (13) 28

Try: May 2, Brown

Pens: Ford 4

Conversions: Ford 2

Samoa (6) 9

Pens: Pisi 3

George Ford
Ford marked his first England start with an inspired display. Getty Images

George Ford's inspired display illuminated an otherwise uncertain performance as England belatedly kick-started their autumn campaign by ending their five-match losing run with victory over a disjointed Samoa at Twickenham.

Ford kicked 16 points on his maiden international start and produced the standout moment of the match with a driven cross-field kick eventually leading to Mike Brown's try.

Jonny May scored twice either side of half time to ease England to victory over a Samoa side that offered a clumsy and ill-disciplined performance, which saw them reduced to 14-men after John Leota's yellow card, after a week where their participation in the fixture was shrouded in doubt.

But amid another underwhelming display from Stuart Lancaster's side, the showing of Ford - who was selected at fly-half ahead of Owen Farrell - will provide the greatest positive for an England side who face Australia in their final autumn fixture next week.

Both sides entered their third autumn international amid contrastingly turbulent circumstances, with England standing on the brink of crisis ahead of the World Cup while Samoa's presence in the fixture had been uncertain until they withdrew their proposed boycott on Tuesday.

Though coach Lancaster was unwilling to make a knee-jerk reaction to the successive losses to New Zealand and South Africa, he made seven changes to his matchday 23, with Ford being handed his first start.

Farrell began at inside centre to rekindle a partnership with former school friend Ford, while Rob Webber, James Haskell and Ben Morgan made up a new-look pack.

After being threatened with expulsion from next year's World Cup after questioning their national governing body, Samoa included Sale winger Leota and Northampton's Tusiata Pisi in their starting XV but entered the contest mentally scarred after a chaotic build-up to the game.

But despite such torrid preparations, Samoa started the more settled of the two sides and drew first blood through a Pisi penalty and as England attempted to claw their way into the game, the Saints fly-half missed a chance to double the lead from right in front of the posts.

An uncertain England start was masked by a Ford penalty but the hosts did spring into action when Brown fed May with a border-line forward pass to allow the winger to score his second try of the autumn series.

Pisi and Ford then exchanged penalties as both sides' indiscipline threatened to disrupt the first half, with the returning Haskell the guilty party for England who despite the occasional foray into the Samoa half continued to lack cohesiveness.

Ford had showed glimpses of the creative spark England had lacked during the start of the autumn campaign and after missing a chance to increase the lead he did so at the second attempt at the start of the second period.

The Bath half-back however produced the outstanding moment of the match when his cross-kick found Anthony Watson, who cut inside before finding Brown to hand England a healthy advantage.

A moment which worked to illuminate an otherwise dour game thrust Ford's much heralded creative game into sharp focus and threatens to give Lancaster a selection dilemma ahead of next year's World Cup.

As Samoa began to unravel, England took full advantage as after Leota was sin-binned for a high tackle on Ford, May scored his second try in the corner after Dave Attwood and Brown's quick offloads.

And though Brown and Attwood missed the opportunity to put the cherry on an improved second half display two successive handling errors ensured England's try-count remained as three and exposed the improvements still required ahead of facing Australia next week.


England: 15. Mike Brown, 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Brad Barritt, 12. Owen Farrell, 11. Jonny May, 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs, 1. Joe Marler, 2. Rob Webber, 3. David Wilson, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Courtney Lawes, 6. James Haskell, 7. Chris Robshaw (c), 8. Ben Morgan.

Replacements: 16. Dylan Hartley,17. Matt Mullan, 18. Kieran, Brookes, 19. George Kruis, 20. Tom Wood, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Billy Twelvetrees, 23. Marland Yarde

Samoa: 15. Ken Pisi, 14. Alapati Leiua, 13. Reynold Lee-Lo, 12. Johnny Leota, 11. David Lemi, 10. Tusi Pisi, 9. Kahn Fotuali'i, 1. Ofisa Treviranus, 2. Jack Lam, 3. Maurie Fa'asavalu, 4. Kane Thompson, 5. Filo Paulo, 6. Census Johnston, 7. Ti'i Paulo, 8. Zak Taulafo

Replacements: 16. Manu Leiataua, 17. Viliamu Afatia, 18. Anthony Perenise, 19. Fa'atiga Lemalu, 20. Dan Leo, 21. TJ Ioane, 22. Pete Cowley, 23. Mike Stanley