Autumn Nations Series: England ease to dominant victory over Japan at Twickenham

Planet Rugby

England's Marcus Smith scores a try during the international rugby union match between England and Japan at Twickenham Stadium, London, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

England produced an improved performance to easily see off a dangerous Japan outfit with a 52-13 triumph at Twickenham on Saturday.

Coming into the game off the back of a shock 30-29 reversal to Argentina, the pressure was on Eddie Jones and his charges, but they responded well.

Against a side that had run the All Blacks close two weeks ago, the hosts were expected to be given a stern examination of their capabilities.

But although the Brave Blossoms came close to stunning New Zealand, they were overpowered by the Red Rose in London.

Jones’ men took a 24-6 lead into the break thanks to tries from Freddie Steward, Marcus Smith and Guy Porter – Takuya Yamasawa providing the visitors’ response with a brace of penalties.

England continued to dominate in the second period and passed the 50-point mark as Porter and Smith completed their braces, while Ellis Genge also went over and they were awarded a penalty try.

Japan did cross the whitewash once via Naoto Saito but it was a disappointing display from Jamie Joseph’s team.

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England liberated themselves from the overthinking that was identified as the source their problems against the Pumas to give their Autumn Nations Series lift off – at least until the All Blacks arrive.

Even amid a cagey opening the atmosphere was livelier than against Argentina six days earlier and home fans were soon able to celebrate an early Owen Farrell penalty and Steward try.

Steward raced over in the 13th minute after Japan’s midfield defence became too compressed following a line-out drive and with Farrell converting the lead became 10-0.

England were showing enterprise as Farrell kicked to Jonny May inside his own 22, but they were being assisted by a Japan team that were freely conceding penalties and just could not get going.

Successive knock-ons stemmed the tide of pressure building on the tourists’ line but once Smith had got a couple of low key errors out of the system, he plundered a try in the right corner after Steward had broken from inside his own half.

Japan finally came to life by producing the type of attacking rugby that brought the last World Cup to life, but their reward was limited to two penalties from Yamasawa.

May, making his first Test appearance in a year because of injury and Covid, was sin-binned for killing the ball as the Brave Blossoms seemed destined to score.

First international tries for Guy Porter

Although a man down, England poured forward on the stroke of half-time as their opponents wobbled close to their line and Sam Simmonds crabbed across the pitch to set up an easy run in for Porter.

Cohesion threaded through the hosts’ play as a drive upfield ended with Genge driving over and when Farrell grubbered ahead for Porter to touch down, Japan’s prospects were looking increasingly gloomy.

Warner Dearns capitalised on a ruck error to send Saito scampering over to stem the flow of one-way traffic, but any danger of a fightback has evaporated long ago.

England secured a penalty try and then Smith was over for his second following a move that involved Steward and Henry Slade, driving the final nail into Japan’s coffin.

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