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Steve Borthwick's England downs Eddie Jones's Japan in perfect start to tour

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Saturday Jun 22, 2024

Steve Borthwick’s England got their 2024 tour off to the perfect start with a 52 – 17 win over Eddie Jones’s Japan in Tokyo.

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Japan would get the first points of the match as Seungsin Lee slotted an early penalty to settle the hosts nerves.

This good start would be Japan’s only joy for the next hour of match action as England ran in seven unanswered tries to take a commanding 45 – 3 lead with fifteen minutes left to play.

Utilising their physicality, England managed to get over the gainline with relative ease, with backrow Chandler Cunningham-South being the benefactor as he went over in the 14th minute.

This would prove to be the catalyst that opened the floodgates as England would score three more tries before the break through Marcus Smith, Immanuel Fey-Waboso and Henry Slade.

Picking up where they left off in the first half, Borthwick’s side would score immediately in the second half through scrumhalf Alex Mitchell before Ben Earl and Harry Randal added two more before the hour mark.

To the hosts credit they would never stop fighting as they ripped into the ultra physical English defence and would be rewarded for their efforts as Koga Nezuka dove over in the left corner.

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Moments later, Japan scored arguably the try of the day as secondrow Warner Dearns burst through the defence with some incredible skill before finding Takuya Yamasawa, who raced away under the posts.

Yamasawa’s try would shake England from their ten-minute slumber as the Six Nations side regained control of the fixture and began to play inside the Japanese half.

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This pressure was beginning to tell as substitute flyhalf Fin smith routinely pinned the hosts back with clever kicks and short passes which kept his pack on the front foot.

Just as a sense of inevitability that England would score began to take hold of the proceedings, England replacement Charlie Ewels brought a temporary halt to his side’s progress as he was sent from the pitch for a dangerous cleanout.

Initially sent off with a yellow card which was to be reviewed by the TMO, Ewels offence was upgraded to a red card and has now thrown cast doubt on whether the Bath man will be eligible for the remainder of the tour.

Despite being a man down, England would have the final say as backrow Sam Underhill took his team to the 50-point mark before Slade converted for the final points of the fixture.

Whilst they will be disappointed by their lack of concentration during Japan’s ten-minute period in which Japan scored two tries, England looked assured throughout the contest and simply bowled over their hosts with their uptempo and physical game.

Next up for Borthwick’s side is a two test series against the All Blacks which gets underway on July 6th in Dunedin.

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