Seven-try England overpower Fiji
Sat, 10 Nov 2012 17:54
We were pretty slow coming out of the blocks
England launched their European year-end series with a commanding 54-12 win over Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday.
Stuart Lancaster's men outscored Fiji seven tries to two and the match was all but over as a contest at half-time with England 25-0 up.
England's fifth win in as many Tests against Fiji, battling to overcome issues of player release for this tour, was also their record margin of victory over the Pacific Islanders, surpassing the 35-point gap they recorded in a 58-23 success at Twickenham in 1989.
Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples scored his first two tries for England, who also saw Harlequins wing Ugo Monye and blindside flank Tom Johnson touch down in a tally that also included a penalty try and two late scores by Manu Tuilagi.
Flyhalf Toby Flood kicked 17 points.
Fiji avoided the embarrassment of being 'nilled' when scrumhalf Nikola Matawalu scored a fine solo try in the 54th minute and replacement Seko Kalou crossed in the final minute.
Sterner challenges will confront England when southern hemisphere giants Australia (November 17), South Africa (November 24) and world champions New Zealand (December 1) all visit Twickenham on successive weekends.
If England maintain their top four position in the International Rugby Board rankings, the 2015 World Cup hosts will be among the top seeds when the pool stage draw for the global showpiece takes place next month.
England, with several players boasting just a handful of caps each, initially tried to play too much rugby without first securing forward dominance and afterwards coach Lancaster told Sky Sports: "We will take the positives - there were lots of things we did well, but also some rusty areas we will have to work on before next week, no doubt.
It was a point echoed by England captain Chris Robshaw, who said: "We were pretty slow coming out of the blocks. We eventually warmed into the game but we cannot do that over the next three weeks."
England were reduced to 14 men in the 10th minute.
Scrumhalf Danny Care was sin-binned by Test debutant referee Glen Jackson, acting on the advice of an assistant, for a dangerous tackle on Fiji lock Leone Nakarawa.
Fiji's failure to make England pay for being a man down was compounded when Care returned to help create the hosts' first try in the 22nd minute.
Care made a half-break and the ball was moved quickly along the line before fullback Alex Goode fed Sharples, in for the suspended Chris Ashton, and he evaded several poor attempted tackles for his first Test try.
Flood added the conversion before his penalty made it 13-0.
Fiji then fell foul of Jackson when captain Deacon Manu was sin-binned for persistent offside.
In the prop's absence, Fiji conceded a penalty try from a scrum - a moment to savour for England debutant hooker Tom Youngs - in the 36th minute and worse followed for the Islanders on the stroke of half-time.
England caught Fiji napping when Goode's quickly-taken penalty sent Monye over in the left corner.
Flood saw his difficult conversion hit the far post - his first wayward goalkick - but he was soon adding another penalty early in the second half.
Then a flowing move saw Flood and Goode combine before Robshaw sent in Johnson for his fellow back-row's first Test try.
Fiji hit back with a superb solo effort from Glasgow's Matawalu, who picked off a pass from Monye, stepped past centre Tuilagi and then won the race to his own chip ahead.
England, though, soon had another try when Flood's looping pass sent in Sharples for his second of the match.
Among the replacements Ben Youngs, Tom's brother, came on for Care. The sons of former England scrumhalf Nick Youngs became the 10th set of brothers to play in the same England side and the first since Steffon and Delon Armitage in 2009.
Then, inside the final 10 minutes, Tuilagi bolstered England's victory margin with two tries before Kalou had the last word.
Tries: Sharples 3, Penalty try, Monye, Johnson, Tuilagi
Cons: Flood 4, Farrell
Pens: Flood 3
Tries: Matawalu, Kalou
England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Danny Care, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Mike Brown.
Fiji: 15 Simeli Koniferedi, 14 Samu Wara, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Sireli Naqelevuki, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Metuisela Talebula, 9 Nicola Matawalu, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Malaki Ravulo, 6 Api Naikatini, 5 Apisolame Ratuniyarawa, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Deacon Manu (captain), 2 Viliame Veikoso, 1 Penijamini Makutu.
Replacements: 16 Seremaia Naureure, 17 Setafano Samoca, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Sekonaia Kalou, 20 Iliesa Ratuva, 21 Kelemedi Bola, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert, Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
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