jordan crane saxonsEngland Saxons have made four changes to their starting line-up for Sunday’s Churchill Cup clash with Tonga at Gloucester (2.30pm).

Full back Alex Goode (Saracens), wing Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), scrum half Paul Hodgson and hooker David Paice (both London Irish) come into the side.

They take over from Mike Brown (Harlequins), Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors), Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons) and Joe Gray (Harlequins) for a match that will determine who meets Canada in the Churchill Cup final at Worcester on June 18.

The Saxons set a competition record with their 87-8 win over the USA last weekend but tournament newcomers Tonga – who got within a score of South Africa at the 2007 World Cup – represent a difficult test. The Islanders beat the USA 44-13 at Esher on Wednesday with wing Viliami Iongi scoring four tries.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We’ve rotated our squad for this game to give other players opportunities to demonstrate their abilities as we see the tournament very much about development as well as being a competition in its own right.

“A lot of players really put their hand up last week. It’s tough on the likes of Miles Benjamin who misses out this time but I am sure he will get further opportunities during the final games of the competition.

“Tonga had a very good win against what was probably a stronger USA side than the one we faced and we’re very aware of the physicality they’ll bring on Sunday.

“They played with good shape in attack and defence against the USA. For us it’s important that we improve our execution, particularly in the first half, and that this young England Saxons side measures up to the physical challenge.”

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England Saxons

15 Alex Goode (Saracens)

14 Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby)

13 Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby)

12 Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers)

11 Topsy Ojo (London Irish)

10 Rory Clegg (Harlequins)

9 Paul Hodgson (London Irish)

1 Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors)

2 David Paice (London Irish)

3 Matt Stevens (Saracens)

4 Mouritz Botha (Saracens)

5 Dave Attwood (Gloucester Rugby)

6 James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)

7 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)

8 Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers, captain)


16 Joe Gray (Harlequins)

17 Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)

18 Graham Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)

19 Jamie Gibson (London Irish)

20 Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons)

21 Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)

22 Mike Brown (Harlequins)