| 15.7°C Belfast

England too strong for Samoa

Matt Banahan

England failed to hit the heights of last week's record victory over Australia but they remained patient long enough to clinch a hard-fought 26-13 win against Samoa.

Matt Banahan, making his first Test start at outside centre, and replacement flanker Tom Croft scored the tries, while Toby Flood added 16 points with the boot.

But it was a long time coming. England struggled to convert a mountain of possession as Samoa produced a defiant defensive performance.

The visitors snatched the lead early in the second half with a try from full-back Paul Williams before England finally discovered their cutting edge.

Samoa had the final say with a try on the whistle from replacement Fautua Otto, but England's second victory of the autumn campaign - the minimum requirement set out by new RFU chief executive John Steele - had long been sealed.

And it could be better still. Next weekend England face a South Africa side that was beaten by Scotland on Saturday.

Nick Easter, who took over the captaincy with Lewis Moody rested, told Sky Sports afterwards: "I was biting my fingernails for a bit in second half there and I'm glad to get the win.

"We've got the result but we're not happy with the performance.

"We were not as clinical as we wanted to be. We found the breakdown very hard. It really killed us. Our first two guys were not clinical enough and we needed to work out quickly how the ref was going to handle it (the breakdown).

"Good sides can do it. It took us 70 minutes to work it out but we are learning as a side."