ENGLAND Saxons boss Stuart Lancaster heaped praise on Shane Geraghty after the fly-half led them to a 17-13 victory over Ireland A at The Rec in Bath.
Northampton No10 Geraghty scored a try, two conversions and a penalty as the Saxons took revenge for last year’s Churchill Cup thrashing. Wing David Strettle also went over for the Saxons, while for Ireland No8 Chris Henry notched a try and fly-half Paddy Wallace kicked a conversion and two penalties.
“Shane’s contribution was first class,” said Lancaster. “He is someone whose progress I have followed closely, and I think he has grown up a lot, both as a player and as a person.
“He has got self-confidence, and I am really pleased for him. He is in a very competitive position at 10 – Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood are not poor players – and Shane needs to build his overall game. But he has got that innate ability to develop and finish things when gaps open up.”
Geraghty, 23, admitted last year’s 49-22 mauling by Ireland A in the final of the Churchill Cup had fired up the Saxons for yesterday’s rematch.
“Mentally this week, we talked about unfinished business from last summer and we wanted to go after them in attack and defence,” he said. “All week, we had that mindset. Ireland are an experienced team, and it was very physical out there, but we backed ourselves in defence especially, which is what won us the game.”
Geraghty, dropped by England boss Martin Johnson despite starting the autumn Tests against Australia and Argentina at inside centre, was not the only player to impress.
Wasps centre Dominic Waldouck and Saracens wing Noah Cato also shone for a youthful Saxons line-up, while Munster wing Iain Dowling impressed for the visitors.