England secure nervy win over Fiji
England did what needed to be done but would have done nothing to intimidate the Wallabies with their bonus point 35-11 win over Fiji at Twickenham in the World Cup opener earlier today. Fiji, on the other hand, showed that they have weapons to worry the Australians when they play them in Cardiff on Wednesday. […]
September 19, 2015 8:53 pm
England did what needed to be done but would have done nothing to intimidate the Wallabies with their bonus point 35-11 win over Fiji at Twickenham in the World Cup opener earlier today.
Fiji, on the other hand, showed that they have weapons to worry the Australians when they play them in Cardiff on Wednesday. That the islanders have to do it all over again midweek is bordering on a disgrace. Dare it be said, but no Six Nations or Rugby Championship team would have been handed a draw that demanded they front up against the might of England and Australia within five days of each other.
Late tries to Mike Brown, a worthy Man of the Match, and prop Billy Vunipola glossed over a host of problems for coach Stuart Lancaster, and did enough — by the proverbial blade of grass — to earn them what is certain to be a crucial bonus point. How the Australians, watching in their Bath hotel, would have rued the wild pass into touch that presented England with one last attacking chance and whatever, other deficiencies were displayed by the host nation, they showed the poise and character to score the bonus point-clinching try after the bell
In reality, the scoreboard flattered England and gave Fiji little credit for their contribution to proceedings. With an hour gone, the scoreboard stood only 18-11 in England’s favour, this despite three shots at penalty goal from Fiji going astray as first Ben Volavola and Nemani Nadolo strayed off the kicking tee from relatively close range.
England’s set piece, which for the last year has hovered over the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign like an avenging angel, was erratic at best and midway through the second half was creaking as the Fijians turned over the ball just short of the England line. That’s not to say that there aren’t some anxious moments to come from front-rowers Scott Sio, Stephen Moore and Sekope Kepu from their English counterparts Joe Marler, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole but the Fijians showed that the Wallabies should not fear the England set piece.
Certainly the Fijian coaching staff, head coach John McKee and scrum coach Alan Muir, had done their work and at times the islanders scrum more than dominated the contest. This dominance almost lead to one of the tries of World Cup history as halfback Niko Matawalu picked up the ball and scampered 60m to seemingly plant the ball by the corner post. Referee Jaco Peyper — who, it would have to be said, let the occasion get to him — initially ruled fair try but then was forced to rescind it when rep[lays showed Matawalu knocked on the ball attempting to place it.
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