England turn on the style to thrash Japan 52-13

REUTERS/Toby Melville
England’s Marcus Smith celebrates scoring their seventh try with teammates.

LONDON (Reuters) – England put last week’s ragged defeat by Argentina firmly behind them when they ran in six tries, plus a penalty try, and played some highly entertaining rugby along the way to overwhelm Japan 52-13 at Twickenham on Saturday.

There were two each for Guy Porter and Marcus Smith, fullback Freddie Steward picked up yet another man of the match display after getting the opener, and Owen Farrell brilliantly nailed all six of his conversions and an early penalty.

After last week’s 30-29 loss it was just what the Twickenham fans wanted as England dominated for most of the match and played with real enterprise.

“All week we said we wanted to bounce back and we did that today,” said Steward, who has been one of England’s most reliable performers over the last year. “We addressed the problems we had last week and we clicked. We wanted to overpower them.”

England looked lively from the start in a game played in Spring-like conditions, in stark contrast to last week’s rain.

They claimed their first try after 12 minutes as the Farrell-Smith combination finally clicked as the two linked off a lineout ruck to send Steward clear in the left corner.

Steward then set up the second, breaking from his own 22. Joe Cokanasiga carried it on and nicely popped the ball to Smith to score in the 24th minute.

The third came at the end of the half and again Steward was the source as he spectacularly caught his own kick. Jack van Poortvliet then fired a long pass to Sam Simmons, who gave centre Porter a walk in for a 24-6 halftime lead.

England had showed far more attacking imagination than last week and the crowd responded, creating a buzz that was so palpably absent against the Pumas.

Japan tried to move the ball through the backs whenever they saw an opportunity but England’s defence was generally solid, or scrambling when it needed to be, and they had only two Takuya Yamasawa penalties to show for their first half efforts.

The fourth try was a route one charge by power prop Ellis Genge then Porter grabbed his second after a nice grubber kick by Farrell.

England then went off the boil amid a flurry of replacements and Japan stepped up to claim a try through Naoto Saito after lock Warner Dearns galloped through a hole.

They finished strongly, however, as an illegally stopped rolling maul earned a penalty try and a nice chip on the run by Henry Slade, off the bench for his 50th cap, gave Smith his second.

“We let go a little bit more, we stayed constant throughout the game,” said Farrell. “It’s not that we didn’t make mistakes this week, we just reacted better.

“We didn’t think too much, sometimes when you come together for the first game in a while you over-think things. We wanted to show the best of ourselves.

“We’ve got seven days together before the All Blacks and we’ll see how far we can go.”

England, who will play Japan again in the pool stage of the World Cup next September, face New Zealand next week, before finishing their autumn series against South Africa. Japan, who pushed France and New Zealand close in their previous two games, play France again next Sunday.