Canada 5 England 29
Worcester's Pat Sanderson scored a try and led his England team to a workman-like Churchill Cup win over Canada.
But Sanderson's efforts, and those of his new teammate Andy Gomarsall who becomes a Warrior next season, were overshadowed by a disappointing performance and the fractious atmosphere in which the Red Rose's 29-5 win was played.
Partly as a result of the Canadians' gutsy performance, but largely thanks to their own shortcomings, England never stamped their authority on the match and failed to generate the momentum they wanted.
And with both Louis Deacon and fly-half Andy Goode yellow-carded, Sanderson has a lot to contemplate before they take on Argentina in this weekend's final.
Deacon and Goode, both Leicester players, were sent to the sin-bin within three minutes of each other after throwing punches in secondhalf off-the-ball incidents as the overall penalty count fell heavily in Canada's favour.
But coach Joe Lydon refused to criticise his team: "I thought it was fantastic. We were very disciplined," he said. "Yes we had two people sin-binned, but I was pleased.
"I don't think there was any provocation. We knew Canada would play a physical game and we had to match them."
Instead he preferred to focus on the positive, including the open-field running of James Simpson-Daniel.
The Gloucester winger scored a try and set up two more, including Sanderson's, and made a bold statement of intent to get back into the plans of head coach Andy Robinson when he returns from duty with the Lions tour.
"I thought James Simpson-Daniel and Tom Voyce played really well. In broken field, James is one of our best runners," said Lydon. n John Rennocks today announced his resignation as independent chairman of England Rugby Ltd.
Rennocks opted to stand aside in the wake of former chief executive Francis Baron's return to a directorial role within the organisation.
Baron stood down from his chief executive role in November 2004, having reportedly lost the support of his fellow board members at the company who run professional rugby in England.
He was in favour of retaining promotion and relegation between the Premiership and National League One.
Baron's resignation was accepted and ERL asked the Rugby Football Union to name a suitable replacement.