Burgess fails to impress but Saxons claim Cork victory

England's Thomas Waldrom and Ian Madigan of Ireland
England's Thomas Waldrom and Ian Madigan of Ireland

Sam Burgess made a forgettable representative union debut as England Saxons saw off the Ireland Wolfhounds 18-9 in Cork.

With head coach Stuart Lancaster watching from the stands, Burgess produced several conspicuous errors in the first half before becoming a peripheral figure after the interval.

Fly-half Henry Slade and wing Christian Wade crossed and Slade kicked two penalties in a match that saw the set-piece splutter all night, but the ability to seize victory in a difficult assignment will please the English management.

All of the home side’s points came from the boot of Ian Madigan, who landed three penalties in a bitterly cold night.

All eyes were on Burgess, and right from the start the omens were poor as he sought to make his presence felt with an early run only to be drilled into the turf by Dominic Ryan, conceding a penalty in the process.

Ashton took a palm in the face from O’Brien as tempers threatened to boil over and Burgess’ evening showed no sign of improving as he sent a pass straight into touch before an offload went astray as the Saxons finally built some momentum.

The visitors’ most promising spell was rewarded with a 22nd minute try for Slade, who finished a fine move that saw Waldrom produce a smart offload and Elliot Daly carry with intent.

Madigan and Slade exchanged penalties and the second half opened along similar lines with nether side able to stamp any authority on the game.

Madigan slotted a third penalty to reduce the deficit to 11-9 as a decisive final quarter counted down, featuring a poor spell from Burgess that saw him drop a pass and miss a tackle before being replaced in the 74th minute.

The Saxons pressed in the closing seconds and were rewarded when Wade darted over under the posts with Slade converting.