Boos bring England to life against Japan as ugly win puts one foot into Rugby World Cup quarters

Boos bring England to life against Japan as ugly win puts one foot into Rugby World Cup quarters

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England are next in action on Saturday against Chile in Lille. Will Owen Farrell return? You would think so.

You can read Charlie Morgan’s player ratings from Nice by clicking here.

Until next time, goodnight!

The official player of the match

Marler to ITV

[The header] was planned. You won’t believe this but me, Cole and George, back at the hotel, part of our warm-up was practising headers and it came to fruition tonight.

Ever the joker…

Borthwick to ITV

A tough game against a really well coached Japan team. Delighted with the result which we worked hard for. Delighted for the players and the supporters.

We have incredible supporters out here who are travelling and following this team. We want to give them something to celebrate.

The players have to find a way to get the result. Japan kicked 37 times, which is unusual for a Japan side. Whatever the plan was at the start, the players need to adapt to make sure they get the result. And they did that.

We will debrief this game and get a good analysis for going forward. But we should enjoy this win. We’re looking forward to putting a really good performance in against Chile in six days’ time.

Ford to ITV

Delighted with another win. Another tough game as we knew it would be. Japan are great and challenge in different ways. It took until the third or fourth quarter to pull away – which we’d planned for. Not the prettiest to watch but it was good discipline.

There was no frustration from our end. We understand what wins matches. Building pressure is more important and if you force it too early you make it a tight game.

Very happy with the way we played. We’re two from two and happy about that. We have to get better next week, though. There’s some more in us.

Our man in Nice

Those are two decent performances from England now, IMO. Steve Borthwick deserves credit for order of his squad and timing of his replacements. He can tailor gameplans to opponents.

— Charlie Morgan (@CharlieFelix) September 17, 2src23

Player of the match

I have no idea who the official one was, but mine was Ben Earl. Outstanding – again.

Full-time: ENG 34 JPN 12

Bonus point secured, job done – but lots to work on.


All the backs are in the maul but Earl breaks. Isolated? Maybe, but Marchant saves the day.

Dan, on for George, boshes, before Ford starts pulling strings. Smith gives May a dart for the line but Japan scramble.

Youngs flings a pass across the midfield and Marchant scores.

And there’s the bonus point. 

78 mins: ENG 27 JPN 12

A decent maul from England – they’ve been smart there tonight – culminates with a Youngs box-kick which is spilled.

Scrum to England, inside the Japan half, with the last hurrah for the bonus point.

Penalty England from the scrum, which they kick to the corner…

75 mins: ENG 27 JPN 12

Smith, Marchant – with a delightful tip-on – and Earl combine again down the left, beautifully so, but there’s another drop. 

Japan scrum.

73 mins: ENG 27 JPN 12

Lemeki spills – and England spark!

Smith, Lawrence and Daly combine with panache down the left and England put some neat phases together for the first time in the match.

Earl probes again with a side-step, and May carries England to the five-metre line.

But Billy is penalised for off feet! That was the moment for the bonus point.

69 mins: ENG 27 JPN 12

Smith is on for Steward and Lawrence comes on for Tuilagi.

England, now, will hunt for the fourth try and that bonus point. They might need it.


Sublime strike, from wide on the left from Ford.



A nice wrap-around in midfield, ends with a Ford cross-kick, under pressure, on his less comfortable left foot, locating Steward down the left touchline to score.

Plenty of criticisms to level at England tonight, but there wasn’t much in that.

65 mins: ENG 2src JPN 12

Great hustle from England.

Youngs makes a nuisance of himself at the base, and Tuilagi and Earl join him to bundle Matsuda over the line.

England will put in, five metres out.

‘England look lost’

Here’s what Telegraph readers have to say on England’s performance against Japan so far: 

John Smith: “The red card last week essentially simplified the game plan from England’s perspective which ended up benefiting them. Now that they are expected to actually play rugby they look utterly lost. They can’t catch or pass. Epitomised by Earl chucking the ball at the recipient’s face from two yards. Absolutely embarrassing. Systemically, they also look poorly coached. Who keeps telling them to kick in attacking areas?” 

Martin Burlin: “The scrum is not dominating, the line out is questionable to say the least. Our try came from a Japanese mistake. There is no pace to our game.” 

Jeremy Friend: “We manage to combine school boy errors with a total inability to run with the ball and pass it outside. Instead, we kick possession away time after time. Seriously boring.” 

Alan George: “England, best in the business at punishing schoolboy errors. Works a treat until they play France, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, or dare I say it – Fiji.” 

What do you make of England’s performance? Join the conversation in the comments section below

63 mins: ENG 2src JPN 12

Reader, I am sorry to have to tell you, that England have knocked on in a promising position – again.

Credit where credit’s due, it is a hand attack. Marchant and Ford make ground, the latter to within five metres of the Japanese line.

Stuart picks up and drops. And Japan will put-in on their own five-metre line.

62 mins: ENG 2src JPN 12

Youngs is on for Mitchell.

Marchant carries well first phase, but Tuilagi coming round is isolated and Japan attack the breakdown, turning the ball over.

Youngs does well to win it but it ends with a line-out outside the Japanese 22.

6src mins: ENG 2src JPN 12

Genge is on for Marler, just in time for that scrum inside the English 22.

England clear and Japan throw in on halfway – but it’s not straight and England will put in!

58 mins: ENG 2src JPN 12

End to end stuff here, as England break!

But Matsushima lights up Nice, replying in kind, hauled down by May inside the English half in a foot race.

Riley darts for Japan as they recycle, beating Marler in the midfield.

It comes to nothing, however, as Japan catch England’s knock-on bug in the 22.


England’s lead is now eight.


A brighter patch from England and Lawes might have scored!

We’re going to the TMO.

Earl streaks down the right. England recycle, Stuart knocks back in midfield, the ball hits Marler’s HEAD, and Lawes runs on to gather and score.

This is going to be given!

Straight off the training ground…


We have a one-point game with 25 minutes remaining.

53 mins: ENG 13 JPN 9

Ferocious breakdown competing by England – with Itoje and Marler prominent – has Japan at sixes and sevens but Chessum is penalised for not rolling away.

Japan are going for posts, to close the gap to one point.

52 mins: ENG 13 JPN 9

Worst period of the match so far for England. They lose a line-out, and then when they clear up the ensuing box-kick, Ludlam knocks on.

And that’s his final act. Billy Vunipola enters alongside Will Stuart, with Sinckler departing.

5src mins: ENG 13 JPN 9

A decent kick from Ford after Japan, now, spill in midfield ends in a goal-line drop-out for the Brave Blossoms.

Another half-decent attack – with Sinckler and Lawes joining nicely and Earl bristling – ends with momentum stalling and another Mitchell kick, on the outside of the Japan 22.

England will restart with a line-out on the Japanese 1src-metre line.

Millar, Valu and Lemecki are all coming on for Japan.

48 mins: ENG 13 JPN 9

Japan knock on. Mitchell, excitedly, pounces on the turnover. Go on, then, have a go!

The scrum-half box-kicks dead. Sigh.

Japan will put in on halfway.

46 mins: ENG 13 JPN 9

Another better attack from England ends in knock-on tears once again. There’s a cheeky reverse chip from Nagare but England tidy well and off they go.

Marchant, Daly and Mitchell combine again down the left, with the scrum-half one-on-one with Lemeki. He is brought down, England recycle, but there’s confusion in midfield and Steward knocks on.

Better build-up, but lacking a clinical edge in the final third.

43 mins: ENG 13 JPN 9

A neat move from England opens the half, after Steward rules the airwaves.

Sinckler, Ford and Lawes combine to free Earl, who sends Day away down the left. But the wing dies with the ball, pushed into touch, and Japan clear with a quick throw.

Ford replies with a kick and May is flying after it! Marchant charges down after May’s pressure and England are on the attack through Ludlam. Chessum is seemingly taken out off the ball but it ends with a Japan holding-on penalty.

England fans

A question. How happy would you be with England reverting to type and kicking drop-goals, winning by, say, 2src points?

It sounds boring but I personally found Ford’s three drop-goals last week to be totally compelling.

Have England put too much pressure on themselves to do something that doesn’t come naturally to them after the route-one triumph last week?

Let me know in the comments!

Half-time stats

43 carries, one line-break for England. Hmm.

On their kicking, and this is to the nay-sayers: firstly, it has been one of few positives; secondly, Japan have kicked more!

Another positive, excellent officiating from Nika Amashukeli. Barely a foot wrong so far?

Analysis from Nice

The good news for England is that they will be a difficult team to come from behind against. The bad news is that their attack still looks seriously clunky and unlikely to build any sort of lead. 


Well, it hasn’t been vintage, but England will be thankful to have had one of their poorer halves – in terms of execution – and still be leading by four.

Borthwick’s side have created chances but on an individual level they have been sloppy. Positives are the tactical kicking, the maul, the set piece, and the defence. Anything with ball in hand has looked a little inaccurate.

Still, there is 4src minutes to come.


England lead by four at the interval.

4src mins: ENG 1src JPN 9

Better in attack from England, moving the ball accurately, with Earl looking dangerous.

Japan stray offside and Ford points to the sticks on the stroke of half-time.

39 mins: ENG 1src JPN 9

Hmm. England overcomplicate things, with Earl popping into the face of George on the line-out peel.

The hooker knocks on and Japan survive with a scrum seven metres from their own line.

38 mins: ENG 1src JPN 9

For all of Japan’s positivity, that might have been the worst move of the match so far – from either team.

They break blind, to the left, from the scrum, and Matsuda carries outside of the 22, attempts the cross-field chip, and nails it straight out.

England now have a line-out just outside the Japan 22, from which they win a penalty due to a side entry.

Ford goes to the corner!

36 mins: ENG 1src JPN 9

Tuilagi punches a hole first phase; so, too, Sinckler round the corner.

Steward runs a decent inside line off Ford but the full-back spills. Another handling error from England on a sweaty night in Nice.

Scrum Japan on their own 22.

35 mins: ENG 1src JPN 9

Another silky Daly kick off his left foot has Naikabula in all kinds of trouble, but he offloads beautifully and Japan reset and clear.

England come back, a Ford pass hits the deck – although it was on before the intended recipient disappeare

…. to be continued
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