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England made it two wins from two at the 2023 Rugby World Cup by securing a 34-12 bonus point victory over Japan; Despite the victory, there is still plenty of work for Steve Borthwick’s side after a disjointed performance
Last updated: 09/17/23 11:42 p.m.
Sky Sports’ James Cole provides the latest update after England beat Japan in the Rugby World Cup.
After England secured a 34-12 victory over Japan in the second round of the Rugby World Cup, we look at the talking points that emerged from an intriguing performance…
England still struggling in attack
Despite a bonus-point victory and two wins from two at the Rugby World Cup, there is ample evidence that England are still struggling to find their attacking rhythm after a disjointed overall performance.
Lewis Ludlam scored England’s first try of the tournament and then they added three more in the second half through Courtney Lawes, Freddie Steward and Joe Marchant, but it took a lot of effort to finally find continuity.
Although, at first glance, this appears to be a marked improvement from a team that was only able to score thanks to George Ford’s dropped goals against Argentina, it felt like it took too much time for England to develop in the game and this is an area where they could come undone. facing stronger teams later in the tournament.
Indeed, their ability to produce stunning essays, like Steward’s, is there – they just need to do it a lot more often.
“In the end, I enjoyed it. The guys had the chance to express themselves, to be faster, to run lines and to offer themselves – but it took a long time to get there,” said England World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson, speaking to ITV.
“Japan was a little tired in the round of 16. There were so many handling errors that hampered that continuity and the opportunity to get these guys into the match.
“You can see he’s there, he just needs to be there a lot longer.”
Fans make their opinions known as England opt to kick
England’s limited attacking options failed to impress their supporters in Nice, as boos rang out around the crowd every time they opted for a kick rather than risk their arm in attack.
He’s been a staple of this England team for a long time and it has angered supporters when it appears other attacking options are being overlooked in favor of premeditated plays.
Despite some opposition to their style of play, flyhalf Ford was quick to defend his team’s approach to test match rugby, although he understands the “frustration” felt by some.
“It probably wasn’t the prettiest to watch and we had to construct a game in a different way to finally get our points,” he told ITV.
“There has been no frustration on our part – we understand what wins Test matches. I can understand the frustration of what people might see on TV or in the stands, but it is more important to put the pressure – especially in these conditions tonight.
“There will be some decisions we look back on that we could have done better on, but overall we are very happy with the way we played.”
Has Ford made his case to become England’s first-choice number 10?
Ford was quick to defend his team after the match and he also hopes to have defended his place as England’s starting number 10 with Owen Farrell now returning from suspension.
After putting in a dazzling display against Argentina, Ford was also solid against Japan and now the big question for the England camp will be whether he has done enough to keep the captain out.
For some, it makes sense to give Farrell a match against Chile and see who fares best. For others, it’s unfair to let down someone who hasn’t made a mistake.
This week we’ll see which side of the line Borthwick is on.
Ben Earl gives another great demonstration
Ben Earl is a player who has not only secured his place in the starting lineup, but also led the way.
As England grew in rugby, Earl was at the forefront and at his first Rugby World Cup he was a shining light.
Strong in the pack but also dazzling in attack, he is a key player if England are to progress far in this tournament.
Can others learn from his performance?
Assist from Marler’s Mohawk
Although England’s ingenuity in attack has been called into question, props (pardon the pun) must go to Joe Marler for his ‘planned’ header which led to Lawes’ second-half try, his mohawk sending the ball forward and into a perfect position for the captain to collect and score.
Indeed, it’s a decision Marler insists he’s been working on this week. We’ll let you decide if that’s the case…
“It was planned,” said the prop ITV. “You won’t believe this but me, Dan Cole and Jamie George, in our activation warm-up at the hotel, part of that was practicing our headers and that came to fruition tonight.”