Rookie flyhalf Marcus Smith scored 13 points as England were chased to the final whistle in a hard-fought win against the USA at Twickenham on Sunday.
England raced to a 26-3 halftime lead with winger Joe Cokanasiga crossing for two tries in the opening half hour. But the visiting Eagles took flight after the break, winning the second half 26-17 to make England sweat for a 43-29 victory.
Eddie Jones’ team ran in seven tries in front of a crowd of some 10,000 at England’s headquarters.
Jamie Blamire went over in a second half where Smith, on Test debut and fresh from helping Harlequins win a thrilling Premiership final, also scored a try.
But the United States, in their first Test since the 2019 World Cup in Japan where England were the losing finalists, rallied in the second half. An impressive forward effort was rewarded with tries for Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, Cam Dolan, Hanco Germishuys and Christian Dyer.
England, without several senior players because of their involvement in the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, had eight debutants in their starting lineup – including captain Lewis Ludlow.
This was England’s first match since they finished a disappointing fifth in the 2021 Six Nations, but a fixture taking place on US Independence Day saw Luke Carty kick the Eagles into a sixth-minute lead with a long-range penalty.
England hit back immediately, Max Malins fielding the ball from the restart before sending in flanker Underhill.
Malins suffered a shoulder injury in creating the try and was replaced by Wasps’ Jacob Umaga as the nephew of former New Zealand captain Tana Umaga made his England debut off the bench.
Lawrence powered over for his first international try after a well-timed pass by Freddie Stewart, with Smith adding the difficult conversion.
Cokanasiga, whose last Test was against the United States at the World Cup two years ago, then collected Steward’s grubber.
Smith’s delayed pass sent Bath winger Cokanasiga in for his second try on the half-hour.
Lawrence and US full-back Marcel Brache had to leave the field after an accidental clash of heads.
The visitors hit back early in the second half when Fa’anana-Schultz went over from a driving maul.
Replacement hooker Blamire then scored England’s fifth try following a charge down before No. 8 Dolan responded in kind.
Carty’s conversion cut England’s lead to 31-15.
But well-taken tries from half-backs Smith and Randall put England comfortably ahead again before Germishuys and Dyer ensured the Eagles finished strongly ahead of next week’s clash with Ireland.