Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt were backed to force their way into Eddie Jones’ World Cup plans after the Harlequins duo starred in a technicolour England win over the Barbarians.
Fly-half Smith, 20, took 26 points including a try and flanker Dombrandt, 22, capped a remarkable first professional season since leaving Cardiff Metropolitan University last summer with two tries.
And stand-in coach Jim Mallinder, when asked if any of the team that put 50 points on the star-studded BaaBaas could go on to win higher honours, said: ‘Yes I do. We just talked that everybody had an opportunity, playing for England, being watched and giving themselves a chance.
Marcus Smith produced a standout display for England XV in victory over the Barbarians
Smith’s Harlequins team-mate Alex Dombrandt scored two tries at Twickenham
England XV captain Josh Beaumont lifts the Quilter Cup after sealing the win
ENGLAND XV: S Hammersley (Newcastle); P O’Conor (Bristol), J Marchant (Harlequins), J Williams (Newcastle), J Bassett (Wasps); M Smith (Harlequins), A Mitchell (Northampton); R Harrison (Sale), T Dunn (Bath), E Painter (Northampton), E Stooke (Bath), J Beaumont (Sale, capt), A Dombrandt (Harlequins), B Curry (Sale), T Harrison (Northampton).
REPLACEMENTS: T Taylor (Wasps), B Obano (Bath), P Hill (Northampton), W Spencer (Leicester), T Ellis (Bath), B White (Leicester), C Sheedy (Bristol), B Loader (London Irish).
TRIES: Bassett, Hammersley, Smith, Dombrandt 2, J Williams
CONS: Smith 6
PENS: Smith 3
BARBARIANS: C Piutau (Bristol), N Adeolokun (Connacht), M Fekitoa (Wasps), M Atkinson (Gloucester), T Naiyaravoro (Northampton), C Slade (Pau), R Webb (Toulon); J Marler (Harlequins), R Hibbard (Dragons), J Afoa (Bristol), J Horwill (retired), C Vui (Bristol), S Luatua (Bristol), F Louw (Bath), V Mata (Edinburgh).
REPLACEMENTS: D Heffernan (Connacht), P Schoeman (Edinburgh), F Bealham (Connacht), F Isa (Toulon), Liam Messam (Toulon), R Williams (Dragons), B James (Bordeaux Begles), F Nakosi (Toulon).
TRIES: Horwill, Louw, Atkinson 2, Heffernan, R Williams, Naiyaravoro
CONS: Slade 3,
‘Marcus has a massive future ahead of him. He’s still eligible to play for the U20s but it was the right thing I think to play at this level. He has done really well.
‘He is a really grounded young man so hopefully he keeps improving.
‘I don’t think we need expect too much of him.
‘Defensively today we saw some really big shots, he was very brave, tackled well and his game management is improving all the time.
‘He’s clearly an outstanding player with ball in hand.
‘I was very impressed with Alex too. I’ve really enjoyed watching him playing for Harlequins this season.
‘Some of his ball carrying, some of his play around the field was very good.’
It was a strange match, and spectacle, as an unfamiliar group of players only gathered together on Monday faced the Barbarians.
The famous invitational side had all the caps – 478 to England’s five which all belonged to Teimana Harrison – and the big names, but it was the youthful bunch in white who brought most of the vim and won the game.
Josh Beaumont, captain for the day, Simon Hammersley and Johnny Williams took the England XV’s other tries, and the Barbarians had scores from James Horwill, Francois Louw, Rhodri Williams, David Heffernan, Taqele Naiyaravoro and two from Mark Atkinson.
Joe Marchant, the Harlequins centre, was another stand-out in the England side – side-stepping past Barbarians at will – but realistically all those who featured at Twickenham will struggle to make Jones’ 36-man World Cup training squad which is named on July 4, barring injury.
Newcastle centre Johnny Williams was also on the scoresheet with a try of his own
Ex-Northampton coach Jim Mallinder took charge of the England XV for the match
Harlequins team-mates Joe Marler (left) and James Horwill (right) played for Barbarians