O'Leary in timely reminder to Kidney
England Saxons 23 Wolfhounds 17
Declan Kidney said that this game at Sandy Park on Saturday will help him sort out the pecking-order in his Ireland senior squad.
The Wolfhounds, coached by Eric Elwood and Anthony Foley and playing their only fixture this season, never recovered from a poor start, but Kidney took some positives out of the game.
"It was very useful when you see guys who have been playing for their provinces for (only) three months and are thrown into international rugby. It is always a different atmosphere and a different environment and it was very helpful to see how guys cope with it," said the Irish head coach.
"There were some good individual performances, some of the units went well and we will take a look at the positives out of it."
Kidney will announce a 30-man squad today for the opening games against Wales and France, so did he learn much from this clash in Exeter?
"Some of it is position-specific. I had 23-24 guys pencilled in anyway and I now know the options, maybe it's a bit like getting a little bit of a pecking-order in place," he added.
Elwood said the players and management would prefer if there were more Wolfhounds games.
"It is hard to fit these games in given the amount of games in the Pro12, but they are very important," he said.
"It is a chance for players to show what they can do at international level and we would like another week together and another game next week.
"The lads would have liked to play against Scotland or Italy but maybe next year that opportunity might arise."
There were few standout performances from players hoping for promotion to the senior squad, although Tomas O'Leary was clearly fired up when introduced and did well. He crowned that cameo with a try in his first match back in an Irish jersey since being left out of the World Cup squad.
Rhys Ruddock also produced a solid display, with Eoin O'Malley catching the eye in the centre, while Dan Tuohy had good moments but would probably have hoped to do more to persuade Kidney.
Mike McCarthy was consistent, while Simon Zebo looked threatening the few times the ball went wide.
England were on top in the scrum and that gave them a platform for victory.
They got on top from the outset and were 10-0 in front after as many minutes, with scrum-half Ben Spencer darting over.
O'Malley provided a neat inside pass to put David Kearney over after 22 minutes which left it 10-5 at the break, but No 8 Thomas Waldrom extended England's lead before O'Leary clawed Ireland back into contention.
Freddie Burns' penalties kept putting daylight between the sides and the issue was long decided in front of a crowd of 7,640 before Zebo, who had a first-half dash for the line ended when Matt Banahan made it across to charge him into touch, completed a good move with a try out wide in the final play of the night.
England Saxons -- D Armitage; U Monye, M Hopper, B Twelvetrees, M Banahan ( J May 60) ; F Burns, B Spencer ( P Hodgson 67); M Mullan, J Gray (C Brooker 60), P Doran-Jones; M Garvey ( K Myall 46), G Robson; J Gaskell, A Saull (T Johnson 72), T Waldrom.
Ireland Wolfhounds -- G Duffy (D Hurley 55); D Kearney, E O'Malley, N Spence, S Zebo; I Keatley ( I Madigan 52), I Boss (T O'Leary 52); B Wilkinson ( R Loughney 60), D Varley (M Sherry 67), S Archer; D Tuohy, M McCarthy (D Toner 63); J Muldoon (K McLaughlin 67), C Henry, R Ruddock.
REF -- C Marchat (Fra).