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England beat Japan at Rugby World Cup

England moved closer to the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup on Sunday evening after a 34-12 victory over Japan at the Allianz Riviera in Nice.

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This result with a bonus point leaves Steve Borthwick’s men one victory before securing a place in the round of 16 of Group D. This success should be obtained next Saturday at the Stade Pierre Mauroy against Chile, debutant in the World Cup .

And it will be hailed as a triumph. England entered the tournament on the back of a terrible run that saw them win just two wins in nine games in 2023.

Flyhalf George Ford orchestrated a 14-man 27-10 victory over Argentina in the opening match in Marseille on September 9 by scoring all 27 points.

And the 30-year-old, who had 14 points on Sunday night, was named man of the match for executing a robust and unexciting kicking strategy.

“Delighted with another victory,” he said after receiving his trophy.

“A tough match. We knew it would be, because Japan never gave in.

“We had to change the way we attacked to get the runs we needed, but there is no frustration on our part. We know what it takes to win Test matches. We are two out of two. But we have to improve next week, and there is more in us.


Eleven handling errors told the grim story of the first half in which Ford and his Japanese counterpart, Rikiya Matsuda, exchanged penalties in the first 17 minutes and, after the water break, Matsuda knocked one over another.

But Japan’s lead was fleeting. Kyle Sinckler collected a loose ball on a line near the Japanese five-yard line and although he was able to force his way through, Lewis Ludlam went over when the ball was recycled for the first try of the game.

Ford added both points for a 10-6 lead after 30 minutes.

England’s indiscipline cost them immediately. Jonny May crashed into Lomano Lemeki late on after the full-back cleared a kick and a penalty was awarded where the ball landed in the England half.

A grateful Matsuda took his and Japan’s personal tally to nine points before Ford responded with another penalty just before half-time to send England into the break with a 13-9 lead.

After a grueling 14 minutes in the second half, another penalty and three more points from Matsuda brought Japan back to within one point.


But the game backfired with a monster. As England moved the ball down the left wing it hit Will Stuart’s arm, bounced off Joe Marler’s head and fell into the hand of Courtney Lawes who trotted over the line as that the Japanese players were waiting for the whistle for a kick-in. The try was confirmed by the video referees and England – despite failing to impose their creativity – came up with the unusual.

The after-effects of such wizardry were evident when Ford angled a cross kick for Freddie Steward to tear out of the air and land with a fluidity that had been absent from myriad passages of play.

Ford converted to effectively seal the contest. Joe Marchant’s late try belied the struggle.

Earlier in Group C, Fiji produced the first huge shock of the tournament with a 22-15 victory over Australia in Saint-Etienne.

“I’m emotionally exhausted,” said Simon Raiwalui, who took over as Fiji coach in February. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

Yet such a result was in sight. As a prelude to the World Cup, Fiji won the Pacific Nations Cup, led France narrowly and beat England at Twickenham in warm-ups.

“I told the boys, today is our final,” said skipper Waisea Nayacalevu. “Today will determine whether we want to advance to the quarters, so the mindset was do or die, do our best, fight until the end and the result will come by itself.”

South Africa, the defending champion, did not tolerate such a catastrophe. They pulverized Romania 76-0 in Bordeaux.


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