England back to winning ways thanks to 52–13 victory over Japan

Marcus Smith and Guy Porter both bagged braces as England beat Japan 52-13
©INPHO/Bryan Keane

England convincingly beat Japan 52-13 at Twickenham to bounce back from their shock defeat to Argentina a week ago.

With braces of tries for both Marcus Smith and Guy Porter, Eddie Jones’ England made sure they would not be on the losing side as Japan came to visit. 

After an early kick to the corner yielded nothing, the next penalty that went England’s way was duly kicked by Owen Farrell.

Clearly having confidence in themselves after such a positive start, England would only grow their lead in the minutes that followed.

They did so through a Freddie Steward try, the maul again going nowhere, but would see the full-back slide over as Jack van Poortvliet, Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith combined to send their teammate who made an arcing run to get over the whitewash. 

Stewars would be involved with Smith’s own try also. With England’s set-piece frustrating Japan the ball was launched downfield, Steward collecting calmly before a careering run took him to opposition territory. 

Offloading to Van Poortvliet, the scrum-half found Joe Cokanasiga - who was drafted in as a late replacement for the injured Jack Nowell - in space, the wing getting to eight meters out before being dragged down and Smith was found out wide to score in the corner.

After Owen Farrell added another conversion, a lapse in England’s discipline opened the door for Japan. Both of the scores for Jamie Joseph’s team came from the boot of fly-half Takuya Yamasawa, one for offside and the second after Jonny May was shown a yellow card for not getting out of the way following a Michael Leitch and Dylan Riley break.

Ending the half a man down, England would add a third try to their collection. This one was for the returning Guy Porter, England turning the ball over 10 meters out before spreading it wide through Van Poortvliet to Sam Simmonds, the No. 8 grasped hold of by a blue shirt before finding the centre lurking out wide.

Japan spurned an early chance to have momentum swing their way as the game restarted. Following a Jonny Hill high tackle, replacement Seungsin Lee missed the kick from the tee and in the minutes that followed Jonny May was re-introduced to the game following his time in the sinbin.

It was a moment that would come back to haunt Japan, England continuing to probe for position at any given opportunity. Ellis Genge would score as a result of this, England winning the ball back 10 meters out, kicking to the corner before spreading the ball wide. Not scoring in the corner, the ball made it’s way back inside to Genge who powered through players to extend England’s lead further.

Porter bagged his second as a result of a Maro Itoje turnover in Japan’s half too. With the ball dislodged, Hill and David Ribbans basketball passed the ball to Jonny May, who was scythed down. Owen Farrell was acting as scrum-half, and dropped the ball onto his left foot, Porter chasing hard to place the ball down.

With momentum behind them, Japan bagged their first try of the afternoon through replacement scrum-half Naoto Saito. With the ball going loose at the ruck, lock forward Warner Dearns pounced and offloaded to his teammate in contact, who scored.

With the clock ticking down, England would only extend their lead. First came a penalty try after their rolling maul was prevented illegally by Siosaia Fifita, the second a series of kicks from Smith, Steward and a prod through from Henry Slade among floundering defenders that saw the fly-half collect the ball and dive over unopposed, consolidating the result.

While it seemed possibly England could have added another score before the game was up, they were unable to and have set themselves up well for the visit of the All Blacks to London next Saturday, Ian Foster’s side taking on Scotland at BT Murrayfield tomorrow.

England starting XV: Freddie Steward; Joe Cokanasiga, Guy Porter, Owen Farrell (C), Jonny May; Marcus Smith, Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler, David Ribbans, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, Sam Simmonds

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Joe Heyes, Alex Coles, Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi

Japan starting XV: Ryohei Yamanaka; Kotaro Matsushima, Dylan Riley, Ryoto Nakamura, Gerhard Van den Heever; Takuya Yamasawa, Yutaka Nagare; Keita Inagaki, Atsushi Sakate, Jiwon Gu, Warner Dearns, Jack Cornelsen, Michael Leitch, Kazuki Himeno, Tevita Tatafu.

Replacements: Kosuke Horikoshi, Craig Millar, Yusuke Kizu, Wimpie Van der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne, Naoto Saito, Seungsin Lee, Siosaia Fifita