England Trail Japan At The Break After Some Dreadful Defending


Fly-half Piers Francis was also named in the group along with uncapped lock Elliott Stooke and back-row Ted Hill, who made his debut off the bench against Japan.

Japan captain Michael Leitch: "For the first 50 minutes, it felt like everything was going our way and our discipline was on point". "But then we had a 10-minute lapse in concentration that cost us".

Japan had frustrated England for the best part of an hour, so Mark Wilson crossing to give England a lead which they would never surrender was crucial.

"It was obviously a very disappointing first half".

George Ford, captain for his 50th cap, scored 12 points with the boot and Elliot Daly was on target with a long-range penalty in a first half which Japan dominated, but they were ultimately emphatically beaten.

"It's a great lesson for us, you want these games to be a lesson".

The stats tell the story. They conceded just one penalty to seven by England and made 32 of 39 tackles compared with 82 of 95 by the hosts.

It took a while but eventually the feel of the game changed as the territory, possession and penalties started to go the other way.

England got off to a flyer with a well-made try by Care after three minutes but if the Twickenham crowd were expecting it to open the floodgates they were sorely misled.

Eddie Jones said during the week that England wanted to "smash" Japan, "physically smash them".

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"I think momentum is the key to us winning these games".

Care's early try came from a counter-attack following a kick by Yu Tamura that once again raised questions as to whether the kicking game is something Japan should be pursuing.

The Newcastle Falcons back-rower has had an impressive autumn and deserved the relatively simple task of running the ball over the whitewash.

Tamura added the extras and although a monster Daly penalty from halfway levelled the game at 10-10, the Brave Blossoms responded with a brilliant individual try from skipper Leitch - breaking a tackle from a stationary position just outside the 22, bursting through and beautifully side-stepping last defender Daly for a 15-10 half-time lead.

With the set piece starting to struggle and gaps appearing in their defense, Japan rarely threatened and England took a strangle grip on the game. "But it was a fantastic test for us and our players will have learned a lot from it", Jones said.

"We were actually in a pretty good position and we just needed to find the right way to play in the second half and Japan is a hard side to play if you haven't played against them before". "They are a proper rugby country and I'm really pleased for them".

Hartley dotted down when Japan failed to halt a driving maul to add gloss with Japan fading after causing England so many problems with a vibrant first-half display.

"Japan are a good team but we should be beating them".

England forward Maro Itoje: "Against any team in global rugby we know the opposition will have quality and Japan had a lot of quality, they didn't give up".