England score seven tries in Rugby World Cup thrashing of USA but Owen Farrell gets flattened by dangerous tackle

26 Sep

England secured their second win in as many games at the Rugby World Cup after over-powering the United States 45-7 in a match that was marred by a savage challenge on Owen Farrell that led to the first red card of the tournament.

Farrell, who was a second-half replacement at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, was attempting to pick the ball up off the ground before being struck with a shoulder charge by American flanker John Quill that caught him on the jaw.

This is the sickening moment when Farrell got shoulder-charged
ITV
The tackle unsurprisingly sent Farrell straight to the deck
ITV

The England captain crashed to the floor but was quickly back on his feet as a brawl erupted with Mark Wilson leading the shoving before being joined by a large group of his outraged team-mates.

Referee Nic Berry reviewed the footage and dismissed Quill, who could have no complaints at being severely punished for such a thuggish tackle.

Eddie Jones predicted that playing the USA would be like facing “15 Donald Trumps – aggressive, brash, ready to take on the world”, but the biggest challenge was dealing with the suffocating humidity in Kobe.

With the roof to the ground closed, the stifling conditions made for an energy-sapping encounter for which England had prepared with two ‘heat camps’ in Treviso in the build-up to the tournament.

Wing Joe Cokanasiga plundered two tries and it was a more accomplished display than the underwhelming victory over Tonga that opened Pool C, producing a second successive bonus-point win ahead of the key battles with Argentina and France.

England’s set-piece battered Gary Gold’s underdogs in the first half before they cut loose, expertly directed by fly-half George Ford who was named man of the match.

Ford scored 15 points in the match
Getty Images - Getty

Piers Francis was lucky to escape any punishment for a reckless tackle on full-back Will Holley in the opening seconds but otherwise Berry had a tidy match just two days after World Rugby released a statement criticising the overall performance of officials in the tournament.

The set-piece dominance England enjoyed was helped when 19-year-old Eagles prop David Ainuu was helped from the pitch in only the third minute after falling awkwardly at a scrum.

And the odds of threatening an upset lengthened shortly after when a muscular run from Billy Vunipola sucked in defenders to create space that was exploited by Ford in the next phase by running through a large gap.

England were playing at a high tempo despite the heat and were successfully stretching the US, creating a chance for Cokanasiga who was well tackled by Blaine Scully.

The kicking game superbly directed by Ford and Willi Heinz was serving them well but their discipline was far less on point after conceding four penalties inside 15 minutes.

A driving line-out sent the USA hurtling backwards so when England were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Ford opted for touch instead of taking the points and was immediately rewarded.

Once again the Eagles were scattered at the set-piece and Vunipola was at the bottom of the pile of white shirts as the pack crashed over.

Just as their line-out was dismantled, England pulverised the underdogs’ scrum and from the ensuing penalty they launched another arrowing line-out that ended with Luke Cowan-Dickie touching down.

The half ended with Jonathan Joseph scooping up Elliot Daly’s kick only for Cokanasiga to drop the final pass as the line beckoned.

Successive knock-ons by Joe Launchbury interrupted momentum as the second half was launched with a series of English attacks, but the bonus point arrived in the 47th minute when Joseph performed an elaborate dummy to create the opportunity for Cokanasiga to drive over.

Cokanasiga caused the USA all sorts of problems
Getty - Contributor

The one-way traffic continued with Wilson, who had replaced Vunipola at half-time, making an impact through a series of purposeful carries and wing Ruaridh McConnochie was the next to cross as the beneficiary of some quick hands.

Lewis Ludlam pounced on a poor American line-out to restart the charge but with a four-on-one overlap down the left, Ford butchered what should have been a routine pass.

The Leicester fly-half made amends, however, by producing a neat step to enable Ludlam to cross before Quill was given his marching orders.

Having wasted another chance shortly before, Cokanasiga went over for his second try but the US grabbed a late consolation score through replacement Bryce Campbell as England were caught on the counter-attack.

There was one other match on Thursday as Italy went top of their pool with a bonus-point victory over Canada in Fukuoka.

The Azzurri scored seven tries as they ran out 48-7 winners to follow up their opening match triumph over Namibia.

Italy still have to face Pool B heavyweights South Africa and New Zealand.

Italy have continued their perfect start to the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Getty Images - Getty

England score seven tries in Rugby World Cup thrashing of USA but Owen Farrell gets flattened by dangerous tackle

26 Sep

England secured their second win in as many games at the Rugby World Cup after over-powering the United States 45-7 in a match that was marred by a savage challenge on Owen Farrell that led to the first red card of the tournament.

Farrell, who was a second-half replacement at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, was attempting to pick the ball up off the ground before being struck with a shoulder charge by American flanker John Quill that caught him on the jaw.

This is the sickening moment when Farrell got shoulder-charged
ITV
The tackle unsurprisingly sent Farrell straight to the deck
ITV

The England captain crashed to the floor but was quickly back on his feet as a brawl erupted with Mark Wilson leading the shoving before being joined by a large group of his outraged team-mates.

Referee Nic Berry reviewed the footage and dismissed Quill, who could have no complaints at being severely punished for such a thuggish tackle.

Eddie Jones predicted that playing the USA would be like facing “15 Donald Trumps – aggressive, brash, ready to take on the world”, but the biggest challenge was dealing with the suffocating humidity in Kobe.

With the roof to the ground closed, the stifling conditions made for an energy-sapping encounter for which England had prepared with two ‘heat camps’ in Treviso in the build-up to the tournament.

Wing Joe Cokanasiga plundered two tries and it was a more accomplished display than the underwhelming victory over Tonga that opened Pool C, producing a second successive bonus-point win ahead of the key battles with Argentina and France.

England’s set-piece battered Gary Gold’s underdogs in the first half before they cut loose, expertly directed by fly-half George Ford who was named man of the match.

Ford scored 15 points in the match
Getty Images - Getty

Piers Francis was lucky to escape any punishment for a reckless tackle on full-back Will Holley in the opening seconds but otherwise Berry had a tidy match just two days after World Rugby released a statement criticising the overall performance of officials in the tournament.

The set-piece dominance England enjoyed was helped when 19-year-old Eagles prop David Ainuu was helped from the pitch in only the third minute after falling awkwardly at a scrum.

And the odds of threatening an upset lengthened shortly after when a muscular run from Billy Vunipola sucked in defenders to create space that was exploited by Ford in the next phase by running through a large gap.

England were playing at a high tempo despite the heat and were successfully stretching the US, creating a chance for Cokanasiga who was well tackled by Blaine Scully.

The kicking game superbly directed by Ford and Willi Heinz was serving them well but their discipline was far less on point after conceding four penalties inside 15 minutes.

A driving line-out sent the USA hurtling backwards so when England were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Ford opted for touch instead of taking the points and was immediately rewarded.

Once again the Eagles were scattered at the set-piece and Vunipola was at the bottom of the pile of white shirts as the pack crashed over.

Just as their line-out was dismantled, England pulverised the underdogs’ scrum and from the ensuing penalty they launched another arrowing line-out that ended with Luke Cowan-Dickie touching down.

The half ended with Jonathan Joseph scooping up Elliot Daly’s kick only for Cokanasiga to drop the final pass as the line beckoned.

Successive knock-ons by Joe Launchbury interrupted momentum as the second half was launched with a series of English attacks, but the bonus point arrived in the 47th minute when Joseph performed an elaborate dummy to create the opportunity for Cokanasiga to drive over.

Cokanasiga caused the USA all sorts of problems
Getty - Contributor

The one-way traffic continued with Wilson, who had replaced Vunipola at half-time, making an impact through a series of purposeful carries and wing Ruaridh McConnochie was the next to cross as the beneficiary of some quick hands.

Lewis Ludlam pounced on a poor American line-out to restart the charge but with a four-on-one overlap down the left, Ford butchered what should have been a routine pass.

The Leicester fly-half made amends, however, by producing a neat step to enable Ludlam to cross before Quill was given his marching orders.

Having wasted another chance shortly before, Cokanasiga went over for his second try but the US grabbed a late consolation score through replacement Bryce Campbell as England were caught on the counter-attack.

There was one other match on Thursday as Italy went top of their pool with a bonus-point victory over Canada in Fukuoka.

The Azzurri scored seven tries as they ran out 48-7 winners to follow up their opening match triumph over Namibia.

Italy still have to face Pool B heavyweights South Africa and New Zealand.

Italy have continued their perfect start to the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Getty Images - Getty

England score seven tries in Rugby World Cup thrashing of USA but Owen Farrell gets flattened by dangerous tackle

26 Sep

England secured their second win in as many games at the Rugby World Cup after over-powering the United States 45-7 in a match that was marred by a savage challenge on Owen Farrell that led to the first red card of the tournament.

Farrell, who was a second-half replacement at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, was attempting to pick the ball up off the ground before being struck with a shoulder charge by American flanker John Quill that caught him on the jaw.

This is the sickening moment when Farrell got shoulder-charged
ITV
The tackle unsurprisingly sent Farrell straight to the deck
ITV

The England captain crashed to the floor but was quickly back on his feet as a brawl erupted with Mark Wilson leading the shoving before being joined by a large group of his outraged team-mates.

Referee Nic Berry reviewed the footage and dismissed Quill, who could have no complaints at being severely punished for such a thuggish tackle.

Eddie Jones predicted that playing the USA would be like facing “15 Donald Trumps – aggressive, brash, ready to take on the world”, but the biggest challenge was dealing with the suffocating humidity in Kobe.

With the roof to the ground closed, the stifling conditions made for an energy-sapping encounter for which England had prepared with two ‘heat camps’ in Treviso in the build-up to the tournament.

Wing Joe Cokanasiga plundered two tries and it was a more accomplished display than the underwhelming victory over Tonga that opened Pool C, producing a second successive bonus-point win ahead of the key battles with Argentina and France.

England’s set-piece battered Gary Gold’s underdogs in the first half before they cut loose, expertly directed by fly-half George Ford who was named man of the match.

Ford scored 15 points in the match
Getty Images - Getty

Piers Francis was lucky to escape any punishment for a reckless tackle on full-back Will Holley in the opening seconds but otherwise Berry had a tidy match just two days after World Rugby released a statement criticising the overall performance of officials in the tournament.

The set-piece dominance England enjoyed was helped when 19-year-old Eagles prop David Ainuu was helped from the pitch in only the third minute after falling awkwardly at a scrum.

And the odds of threatening an upset lengthened shortly after when a muscular run from Billy Vunipola sucked in defenders to create space that was exploited by Ford in the next phase by running through a large gap.

England were playing at a high tempo despite the heat and were successfully stretching the US, creating a chance for Cokanasiga who was well tackled by Blaine Scully.

The kicking game superbly directed by Ford and Willi Heinz was serving them well but their discipline was far less on point after conceding four penalties inside 15 minutes.

A driving line-out sent the USA hurtling backwards so when England were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Ford opted for touch instead of taking the points and was immediately rewarded.

Once again the Eagles were scattered at the set-piece and Vunipola was at the bottom of the pile of white shirts as the pack crashed over.

Just as their line-out was dismantled, England pulverised the underdogs’ scrum and from the ensuing penalty they launched another arrowing line-out that ended with Luke Cowan-Dickie touching down.

The half ended with Jonathan Joseph scooping up Elliot Daly’s kick only for Cokanasiga to drop the final pass as the line beckoned.

Successive knock-ons by Joe Launchbury interrupted momentum as the second half was launched with a series of English attacks, but the bonus point arrived in the 47th minute when Joseph performed an elaborate dummy to create the opportunity for Cokanasiga to drive over.

Cokanasiga caused the USA all sorts of problems
Getty - Contributor

The one-way traffic continued with Wilson, who had replaced Vunipola at half-time, making an impact through a series of purposeful carries and wing Ruaridh McConnochie was the next to cross as the beneficiary of some quick hands.

Lewis Ludlam pounced on a poor American line-out to restart the charge but with a four-on-one overlap down the left, Ford butchered what should have been a routine pass.

The Leicester fly-half made amends, however, by producing a neat step to enable Ludlam to cross before Quill was given his marching orders.

Having wasted another chance shortly before, Cokanasiga went over for his second try but the US grabbed a late consolation score through replacement Bryce Campbell as England were caught on the counter-attack.

There was one other match on Thursday as Italy went top of their pool with a bonus-point victory over Canada in Fukuoka.

The Azzurri scored seven tries as they ran out 48-7 winners to follow up their opening match triumph over Namibia.

Italy still have to face Pool B heavyweights South Africa and New Zealand.

Italy have continued their perfect start to the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Getty Images - Getty

Rugby World Cup pundits, including Jonny Wilkinson and Sam Warburton, made to remove shoes from Japanese-themed studio

24 Sep

ITV’s Rugby World Cup pundits have been banned from wearing shoes in their Japanese-style studio after it was pointed out they were breaking an old tradition.

Former international stars including Jonny Wilkinson and Lawrence Dallaglio were providing analysis in their demonstration area, which was covered with tatami mats.

In Japan, where the Rugby World Cup is being held, it is customary for anyone entering a tatami room to remove their footwear.

Viewers noticed their faux pas on social media during their first broadcast of the opening fixture between the hosts and Russia.

ITV were quick to rectify this and halfway through the pundits were seen without shoes while giving demonstrations on the tatami mats.

Former England captain Will Carling tweeted: “Slightly strange watching three ex players in socks and jackets doing a walk through on ITV. Different.

“If England progress… maybe later in the tournament they could be in black tie or even smoking jackets?”

England won their opening match 35-3 against Tonga while there were also victories for Ireland and Wales.

Eddie Jones’ side next take on the USA on Thursday at 11.45am in their second group match.

Ireland face hosts Japan on Saturday, Wales have a tough clash with Australia on Sunday while Scotland take on Samoa on Monday.

Rugby World Cup: England make ten changes for second Pool C game as Joe Cokanasiga comes into side

24 Sep

George Ford will captain a much-changed England team in Thursday’s World Cup clash with the USA at Kobe Misaki Stadium.

Head coach Eddie Jones has made ten changes to the starting XV that launched the Pool C campaign with a 35-3 victory over Tonga in Sapporo.

Joe Cokanasiga will add firepower to the back line after being picked on the left wing in place of Jonny May, while Ruaridh McConnochie gets his chance on the wing.

Cokanasiga gets his chance for England in their second Pool game
AFP

Cokanasiga, the giant Fijian-born 21-year-old, has been struggling with a knee injury but has been passed fit for the second match of England’s four-day turnaround.

His presence makes up for Manu Tuilagi’s absence after the Leicester wrecking ball is rested in the wake of laying waste to Tonga with a devastating two-try salvo.

Captain Owen Farrell drops to the bench so Ford, who leads the team, continues at fly-half inside a new-look centre combination of Piers Francis and Jonathan Joseph.

McConnochie wins his second cap on the right wing with Elliot Daly continuing at full-back and Willi Heinz getting the nod ahead of Ben Youngs at scrum-half.

There are three survivors from the pack that started against Tonga in prop Joe Marler, flanker Tom Curry and number eight Billy Vunipola.

Lessons Learned: England ready to make Scotland pay for Ireland setback
Ford will captain England in Kobe
Getty

Vunipola started throughout the warm-up series and continues his run of games after a frustrating spell of injury that saw him suffer three broken arms in a year.

Henry Slade is absent despite making his comeback against Tonga after three months out with a knee injury incurred during last season’s Gallagher Premiership final.

Slade came on at full-back at the Sapporo Dome and hurt the same knee that resulted in his summer on the sidelines but was able to finish the match after receiving treatment.

Openside flanker Sam Underhill drops out of the squad completely and there is a return for back row Mark Wilson on the bench following his struggle with a knee injury.

Eddie Jones said: “The four-day turnaround is something we experimented with against Japan last autumn and so the players have had some experience of it.

“You have to make sure the two days before the game are exactly the same as you would normally have for any other game.

“What I see now is players handling it really well but the game on Thursday will be the litmus test.”

Rugby World Cup: England make ten changes for second Pool C game as Joe Cokanasiga comes into side

24 Sep

George Ford will captain a much-changed England team in Thursday’s World Cup clash with the USA at Kobe Misaki Stadium.

Head coach Eddie Jones has made ten changes to the starting XV that launched the Pool C campaign with a 35-3 victory over Tonga in Sapporo.

Joe Cokanasiga will add firepower to the back line after being picked on the left wing in place of Jonny May, while Ruaridh McConnochie also gets his chance on the wing.

Cokanasiga gets his chance for England in their second Pool game
AFP

Cokanasiga, the giant Fijian-born 21-year-old, has been struggling with a knee injury but has been passed fit for the second match of England’s four-day turnaround.

His presence makes up for Manu Tuilagi’s absence after the Leicester wrecking ball is rested in the wake of laying waste to Tonga with a devastating two-try salvo.

Captain Owen Farrell drops to the bench so Ford, who leads the team, continues at fly-half inside a new-look centre combination of Piers Francis and Jonathan Joseph.

McConnochie wins his second cap on the right wing with Elliot Daly continuing at full-back and Willi Heinz getting the nod ahead of Ben Youngs at scrum-half.

There are three survivors from the pack that started against Tonga in prop Joe Marler, flanker Tom Curry and number eight Billy Vunipola.

Lessons Learned: England ready to make Scotland pay for Ireland setback
Ford will captain England in Kobe
Getty

Vunipola started throughout the warm-up series and continues his run of games after a frustrating spell of injury that saw him suffer three broken arms in a year.

Henry Slade is absent despite making his comeback against Tonga after three months out with a knee injury incurred during last season’s Gallagher Premiership final.

Slade came on at full-back at the Sapporo Dome and hurt the same knee that resulted in his summer on the sidelines but was able to finish the match after receiving treatment.

Openside flanker Sam Underhill drops out of the squad completely and there is a return for back row Mark Wilson on the bench following his struggle with a knee injury.

Eddie Jones said: “The four-day turnaround is something we experimented with against Japan last autumn and so the players have had some experience of it.

“You have to make sure the two days before the game are exactly the same as you would normally have for any other game.

“What I see now is players handling it really well but the game on Thursday will be the litmus test.”

Wales kick off World Cup campaign with bonus-point win against Georgia

23 Sep

Wales launched their World Cup campaign in bonus point fashion by seeing off Georgia 43-14 at City of Toyota Stadium.

The Six Nations champions delivered a strong statement of intent less than a week before tackling Pool D rivals Australia as they put Georgia to the sword during a dominant first-half display.

Wales had a bonus point wrapped up by half-time after tries from centre Jonathan Davies, flanker Justin Tipuric, wing Josh Adams and full-back Liam Williams, with fly-half Dan Biggar kicking three conversions and a penalty.

Wales got their World Cup campaign off to a solid start
AFP or licensors

And although the second period proved a much tighter affair – tries by hooker Shalva Mamukashvili and replacement prop Levan Chilachava accurately reflected a stirring Georgia recovery – Wales were never threatened.

Fly-half Tedo Abzhandadze kicked two conversions, while Biggar added the extras to Wales’ fifth try from substitute scrum-half Tomos Williams before wing George North claimed a fine solo try that Leigh Halfpenny converted.

Wales went into the game in the wake of assistant coach Rob Howley being sent home from Japan last week for an alleged breach of World Rugby’s betting regulations.

Howley, 48, returned to Wales to assist with an investigation relating to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation six – specifically betting on rugby union.

But Wales showed no sign of a hangover from those difficult few days, blasting from their starting blocks and producing some high-tempo rugby that bristled with attacking verve, pinpoint accuracy and tactical authority to finish Georgia by the break.

Skipper Alun Wyn Jones equalled the Wales appearance record, matching prop Gethin Jenkins’ mark of 129 Tests, while Dragons flanker Aaron Wainwright made a World Cup debut two days before his 22nd birthday.

It took Wales just three minutes to open their account, with Gareth Davies breaking quickly from a scrum and sending Jonathan Davies through a huge midfield gap.

Jonathan Davies finished with ease, and although Biggar somehow hit the post with his conversion attempt from straight in front of the posts, Wales were off and running, 5-0 ahead.

Biggar then made amends for his earlier blunder, kicking a short-range penalty that put Wales eight points clear after seven minutes, before Tipuric added a second try following strong running by Gareth Davies and Adams.

Wales were all over their opponents during the opening quarter, and it was no surprise when a second try arrived after 13 minutes.

Wales return to World Cup action on Sunday when they play Australia
Getty Images - Getty

Biggar’s slick pass put Adams into space and – despite a supporting Gareth Davies being tackled – Tipuric gathered recycled possession and touched down, with Biggar adding the extras.

It was very comfortable for Wales, and Adams then finished brilliantly following a 40-metre run after Biggar’s clever inside ball, and another successful conversion from the fly-half made it 22-0.

Georgia’s trademark scrummaging power surfaced when they finally moved close to Wales’ 22, but a lack of poise and precision with ball in hand denied them a chance to cut the deficit.

Wales finished a one-sided first half back on the attack, and a bonus-point try arrived when more impressive work by Jonathan Davies resulted in an opportunity for full-back Liam Williams that he gratefully accepted.

Biggar’s successful conversion took it to 29-0, and Wales were out of sight with half the game remaining.

The Wales players bowed to the crowd after their victory
Getty Images - Getty

Georgia began the second period in lively fashion, reverting to a strong driving lineout, and Mamukashvili scored a try from one such show of power, before his replacement Jaba Bregvadze was sin-binned shortly afterwards for illegally halting a Wales forward surge.

Wales were given plenty to think about in the physical exchanges by Georgia, but a five-point maximum and no apparent injuries made it a case of job done.

Rugby World Cup 2019: Manu Tuilagi brace helps England secure comfortable bonus-point victory over Tonga in opening game

22 Sep

England’s World Cup campaign began with a solid 35-3 victory over Tonga as Manu Tuilagi produced a stand-out display for Eddie Jones’ men.

Tuilagi’s two first-half tries put England on course for victory in an otherwise otherwise workmanlike performance from the 2003 winners.

Manu Tuilagi, right, was superb for England as they got their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a thumping victory over Tonga
Getty Images - Getty

The Lions powerhouse has been used sparingly by Jones, whose only focus has been making sure he is at his most effective in time for Japan following years of injury-induced misery and in the northern island of Hokkaido he was magnificent.

But around him England struggled to subdue spoiling and tactically astute opponents who recently leaked almost 100 points to New Zealand, albeit in a warm-up match with nothing at stake.

It took until the 77th minute to secure the bonus point as Jonathan Joseph wriggled into space and sent Luke Cowan-Dickie sliding over, but it was the only highlight of a disjointed final quarter.

The match ended with Tonga pouring forward in search of a deserved try and they will be emboldened by their success in frustrating England’s strongest available side.

Henry Slade made his comeback from a knee injury but he needed treatment after going down and was later involved in an exchange of views with Elliot Daly over a botched chance.

Slade came on for Jonny May, who departed with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

From the start England’s pack were met with a wall of red shirts but out wide they created openings with ease as Sam Underhill and Tuilagi roamed into space.

It was not the kind of slick performance that manager Eddie Jones was hoping for from his side
Getty Images - Getty

In a rare sight, Billy Vunipola was sent hurtling backwards by openside Zane Kapeli and the Tonga bench celebrated the tackle with pumping fists, but Tuilagi later evened the score by flattening Sonatane Takulua.

Owen Farrell, who ended the game kicking 15 points, and Kurt Morath exchanged penalties and as the first quarter came to an end, England were struggling to generate momentum against opponents who were playing a smart gameplan.

Underhill appeared to have rolled over the whitewash after Tuilagi had rampaged behind enemy lines only for Siale Piutau to squeeze beneath the ball, but a try was imminent and it arrived from its most likely source.

A scrum 20 metres out gave Tuilagi the platform to attack and the Leicester wrecking ball barged his way over with the TMO this time awarding the try.

England’s bizarre attempt at dealing with the ensuing restart incurred the wrath of Jones, who slammed his desk twice in frustration.

Any anger subsided quickly, however, as Courtney Lawes stepped his way through heavy traffic to start an attack that accelerated through the gas of Daly and May and ended with Tuilagi strolling in for his second.

Having entered half-time 18-3 ahead, England began to lose their way and the scrappy flow to the game played into Tonga’s hands.

Even Tuilagi dropped the ball as he was launched once again, but the lack of impetus was in part due to the vast number of changes made by Jones, including the arrival of Slade at full-back.

A driving line-out bolstered by arriving backs arrowed over the whitewash in the 58th minute with Jamie George touching down and when play resumed Jones had used his entire bench except Joseph.

On came Joseph and with him the bonus point as he created the opening for Cowan-Dickie to touch down under the posts.

Rugby World Cup 2019: Manu Tuilagi brace helps England secure comfortable bonus-point victory over Tonga in opening game

22 Sep

England’s World Cup campaign began with a solid 35-3 victory over Tonga as Manu Tuilagi produced a stand-out display for Eddie Jones’ men.

Tuilagi’s two first-half tries put England on course for victory in an otherwise otherwise workmanlike performance from the 2003 winners.

Manu Tuilagi, right, was superb for England as they got their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a thumping victory over Tonga
Getty Images - Getty

The Lions powerhouse has been used sparingly by Jones, whose only focus has been making sure he is at his most effective in time for Japan following years of injury-induced misery and in the northern island of Hokkaido he was magnificent.

But around him England struggled to subdue spoiling and tactically astute opponents who recently leaked almost 100 points to New Zealand, albeit in a warm-up match with nothing at stake.

It took until the 77th minute to secure the bonus point as Jonathan Joseph wriggled into space and sent Luke Cowan-Dickie sliding over, but it was the only highlight of a disjointed final quarter.

The match ended with Tonga pouring forward in search of a deserved try and they will be emboldened by their success in frustrating England’s strongest available side.

Henry Slade made his comeback from a knee injury but he needed treatment after going down and was later involved in an exchange of views with Elliot Daly over a botched chance.

Slade came on for Jonny May, who departed with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

From the start England’s pack were met with a wall of red shirts but out wide they created openings with ease as Sam Underhill and Tuilagi roamed into space.

It was not the kind of slick performance that manager Eddie Jones was hoping for from his side
Getty Images - Getty

In a rare sight, Billy Vunipola was sent hurtling backwards by openside Zane Kapeli and the Tonga bench celebrated the tackle with pumping fists, but Tuilagi later evened the score by flattening Sonatane Takulua.

Owen Farrell, who ended the game kicking 15 points, and Kurt Morath exchanged penalties and as the first quarter came to an end, England were struggling to generate momentum against opponents who were playing a smart gameplan.

Underhill appeared to have rolled over the whitewash after Tuilagi had rampaged behind enemy lines only for Siale Piutau to squeeze beneath the ball, but a try was imminent and it arrived from its most likely source.

A scrum 20 metres out gave Tuilagi the platform to attack and the Leicester wrecking ball barged his way over with the TMO this time awarding the try.

England’s bizarre attempt at dealing with the ensuing restart incurred the wrath of Jones, who slammed his desk twice in frustration.

Any anger subsided quickly, however, as Courtney Lawes stepped his way through heavy traffic to start an attack that accelerated through the gas of Daly and May and ended with Tuilagi strolling in for his second.

Having entered half-time 18-3 ahead, England began to lose their way and the scrappy flow to the game played into Tonga’s hands.

Even Tuilagi dropped the ball as he was launched once again, but the lack of impetus was in part due to the vast number of changes made by Jones, including the arrival of Slade at full-back.

A driving line-out bolstered by arriving backs arrowed over the whitewash in the 58th minute with Jamie George touching down and when play resumed Jones had used his entire bench except Joseph.

On came Joseph and with him the bonus point as he created the opening for Cowan-Dickie to touch down under the posts.

Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland make perfect start to tournament with Scotland thumping in Yokohama

22 Sep

Ireland began their Japanese World Cup adventure in stunning fashion with a 27-3 bonus-point blitz over Scotland in what will be Joe Schmidt’s final tournament in charge of the team.

James Ryan, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Conway all crossed the line in Yokohama as Ireland gave themselves a fighting chance of topping Pool A.

Joe Schmidt will step down as Ireland coach after the World Cup
Getty Images - Getty

If Schmidt’s men manage to do that it will more than likely set up a quarter-final battle with South Africa, following the Springboks’ loss to New Zealand.

Ireland entered the tournament as the world’s top-ranked team for the first time in history, but were also dogged by the spectre of their record 57-15 defeat by England at Twickenham just last month.

Head coach Schmidt’s tournament plans had been heavily scrutinised, Rory Best’s captaincy had been questioned, and Ireland were left to lament a second frustrating loss to England in the calendar year.

All boss Schmidt’s plans came to fruition on the shores of Tokyo Bay however, with skipper Best leading from the front with a timeless, tub-thumping, try-scoring turn.

Ireland will move on to face hosts Japan in Shizuoka on Saturday feeling fully vindicated in their preparations, boasting a spring in their step and a zip in their play.

Schmidt’s men entered this clash missing backline stalwarts Rob Kearney and Keith Earls through injury, but their understudies Jordan Larmour and Conway excelled in a hugely-comprehensive Ireland performance.

Scotland’s wretched afternoon was worsened all the more by a nasty-looking knee injury to Hamish Watson, that could well end his tournament.

Watson’s left knee buckled amid a robust but legal double ruck cleanout from Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong, with the Edinburgh flanker immediately letting out a blood-curdling scream clearly audible on the referee mic feed.

James Ryan, pictured, crossed the line for Ireland in an impressive 27-3 victory against Scotland in their World Cup opener
Getty Images - Getty

Scotland face Samoa in Kobe on Monday, and it would seem highly likely they will do so without the accomplished but luckless Watson.

Ireland’s
Peter O’Mahony and Bundee Aki did not return after Head Injury Assessments (HIAs) and Josh Van Der Flier was forced out late on, with all three now doubts to face Japan.

Johnny Sexton handed goal-kicking duties to Conor Murray, perhaps hampered by a minor leg niggle. Ireland withdrew their premier playmaker right after the fourth try, clearly protecting the British and Irish Lions star for later in the tournament.

Ireland blasted into the Scots from the very first second, attacking in relentless waves and denying Gregor Townsend’s men any foothold.

A smartly-angled lineout drive allowed Best to break blind and Murray to chip in behind. Iain Henderson ploughed right over Stuart McInally to bust a midfield cavern and set camp on the Scotland tryline.

Two tight phases later, and Ryan burrowed home to hand Schmidt’s men the dream start.

Garry Ringrose then scythed down Stuart Hogg in midfield, Aki latched on for the turnover and Ireland were back on the attack.

WP Nel was pinged for side entry from the resulting penalty lineout and Sexton punted to the corner for another fine platform. And Ireland’s flawless lineout catch-and-drive flattened the Scots, with skipper Best rising last from the pile for his 11th Test try.

Irish supporters will see their beloved boys in green face hosts Japan next in the competition
Getty Images - Getty

Finn Russell finally put Scotland on the board on the quarter-hour with a penalty goal, but Gregor Townsend’s men were never able to settle.

Tommy Seymour knocked on in midfield, Conway fly-hacked deep and the loose ball rebounded off the post. Hogg scooped up but was duly hauled back over his line by Conway, handing Ireland a five-metre scrum.

CJ Stander powered off the set-piece to put Ireland in touching distance again, and Furlong busted in for the third try – all inside the half-hour.

Murray slotted the conversion to post a lead of 19-3 that Ireland took into the break, their scrum-half shanking a penalty shot on the stroke of half-time.

No fourth score before the turnaround, but Ireland still had time for Stander to race past an unguarded Scotland ruck, and for Jacob Stockdale to chip and chase 40 yards down an unguarded blindside off a scrum.

A neat steal in Ireland’s 22 secured Scotland a fine scoring chance after the break, only for John Barclay to knock on cheaply.

That mistake allowed Ireland to regain the momentum, with Conway the chief beneficiary when racing in at the right corner for a smart finish.

Four tries and the bonus point inside the hour, and boss Schmidt had seen enough: Sexton was withdrawn, with his replacement Jack Carty posting a late penalty in a comfortable cameo.