Match Centre: Rugby World Cup Pool D: England 34-12 Japan

Elliot Daly of England is tackled by Kotaro Matsushima of Japan
Elliot Daly of England is tackled by Kotaro Matsushima of Japan
©Photo by Michael Steele - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

England 34-12 Japan, Pool D, Stade de Nice

England managed to overcome Japan with a 34-12 victory at Stade de Nice on Sunday to maintain their winning streak in the ongoing Rugby World Cup campaign.

The win was not convincing for Steve Borthwick's men but yet with two wins from as many games they edge close to the quarter-finals with nine points while Japan are at third with five points.

England made an attacking start to the game as Joe Marchant and Freddie Steward took the ball close but as Japan were pinged for an offside, George Ford, who impressed in the previous game kicked a three-pointer to start the proceedings. Japan had an early injury setback with Semisi Masirewa leaving the field with a thigh problem and was replaced by Lomano Lemeki.

As England tried to press on the attack, Japan, who had a nervy start to the game began to ease themselves before a close range penalty kick from Rikiya Matsuda in the 14th minute brought the scores level. England also had their chances when Freddie Steward launched an attack after good work from Kyle Sinckler but eventually captain Courtney Lawes held the ball long with Elliot Daly outside him.

The start of the second quarter saw England's indiscipline once again haunting them with Earl penalised for an offside and Matsuda kicked a 40m kick to double Japan's tally before Borthwick's men finally gathered some momentum when Lewis Ludlam dived from close range which was their first World Cup try since the 2019 semi-final win over New Zealand. Ford followed with the conversion but missed a penalty goal shortly making it 10-6.

Matsuda made it a one-point game when Jonny May infringed for a late tackle on Lemeki before Ford restored England's four point lead heading into the break with a three-pointer after Japan was penalised for a side entry as the teams completed the opening half with a 13-9 scoreline.

The start of the second half saw Ollie Chessum penalised for not rolling away and once again Matsuda got the penalty right bringing the gap down to one point but Lawes calmed England's nerves as he picked a loose ball to dive under the sticks after it bounced forward off Joe Marler's head. Ford's conversion made it 20-12.

Although Japan did not allow free scoring for England, they got their third try by the 66th minute when a perfectly weighed up crosskick from Ford was gathered by Steward, who went over and the Sale fly-half kicked the conversion from wide to extend their lead to 15 points. Marcus Smith also had a brief cameo for the final 12 minutes at fullback when he came off the bench.

A much needed bonus point though came in the final minute for England when Joe Marchant collected on a pass from Ben Youngs to dot down and Ford once again was spot on with the conversion to seal a 34-12 victory.

Points Table: Pool D

Position Team Played Won Lost Points
1 England 2 2 0 9
2 Samoa 1 1 0 5
3 Japan 2 1 1 5
4 Argentina 1 0 1 0
5 Chile 2 0 2 0

What's Next:

England will be taking on Chile next on Saturday at Stade Pierre-Mauroy while the Brave Blossoms will be taking on Samoa in a must-win encounter on Thursday.

Match Reactions:

England head coach Steve Borthwick was pleased to get their second win.

"I'm really pleased for the players. I'm really pleased for the supporters here tonight. We've got a fantastic travelling support and they spend an awful lot of money to follow this team and we want to make sure they have good nights.

"Tonight it was really tough, we got a bonus point so we're really pleased with that."

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph had high praises for his side but rued missed opportunities.

"Really proud of my team. We created a lot of opportunities, we just made too many mistakes. England put us under a lot pressure but there were times in the first 16 minutes it was a real arm-wrestle – we just needed to capitalise on those opportunities and we weren’t quite able to."

Team line up:

England starting XV: F Steward; J May, J Marchant, M Tuilagi, E Daly; G Ford, A Mitchell; J Marler, J George, K Sinckler, M Itoje, O Chessum, C Lawes (c), B Earl, L Ludlam.

Reserves: T Dan, E Genge, W Stuart, G Martin, B Vunipola, B Youngs, M Smith, O Lawrence.

Japan starting XV: S Masirewa; K Matsushima, T Osada, R Nakamura, J Naikabula; R Matsuda, Y Nagare; K Inagaki, S Horie, J Gu, J Cornelsen, A Fakatava, M Leitch, P Labuschagne, K Himeno (c).

Reserves: A Sakate, C Millar, A Ai Valu, W Dearns, K Shimokawa, N Saito, D Riley, L Lemeki.