An England XV held off a second-half fightback from the Barbarians to claim a 51-43 Quilter Cup victory in an end-to-end encounter at Twickenham on Sunday.
Coached by Jim Mallinder in front of watching boss Eddie Jones, Marcus Smith was among several home players who took their opportunity to impress in a clash that included 13 tries.
England broke the deadlock after 11 minutes as Johnny Williams teed up Josh Bassett to race through down the left.
But the ball sat up nicely for James Horwill to cross for a swift riposte and, although Smith dispatched a penalty, further pressure soon told and Francois Louw powered over, allowing Colin Slade to kick the Barbarians in front with the conversion.
England seized complete control by the break, though, with Smith teeing up Simon Hammersley at the end of a flowing team move, and then scoring himself.
The hosts went in 31-12 up after Alex Mitchell intercepted to tee up Alex Dombrandt, before Williams raced through early in the second half as the contest threatened to become very one-sided.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) June 2, 2019
However, the Barbarians scored twice in two minutes – through Mark Atkinson and Rhodri Williams – and Smith’s latest penalty was followed by another Atkinson score to narrow the gap.
David Heffernan then dotted down and the extras meant there were just three points in the match with little over 10 minutes remaining.
But Smith made sure of victory for England as he maintained his perfect record with his boot with a penalty and then played a role in Dombrandt’s clinching second.
Taqele Naiyaravoro found time for a final try, yet Horwill, in the final match of his esteemed career, missed the conversion at the death.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta