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Japan 17-52 England: rugby union international – as it happened
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Japan 17-52 England: rugby union international – as it happened

Rob Kitson’s report from Tokyo has just landed.

With that I’ll sign off. Thanks for hanging with me as England got their summer tour off to a banging start, running in eight tries in the sweaty heat.

Japan played their part but, apart from a frenetic opening period, were always second best.

That was loads of fun. Catch you soon.

Another unwanted record for Charlie Ewels.

He becomes the first player in Test history to receive red cards in consecutive Tests. His last match, against Ireland in 2022, also ended with his marching orders.

And finally, what does Eddie Jones make of that?

It was a pretty tough game for us today. England are a strong, powerful team, but I was really pleased with our set piece work. We’ve been working on little things in our attack which created opportunities, but we weren’t able to finish them.

We wanted to move the ball quickly, and to do that starts with our set piece where we showed some improvement today. Our movement around the ball is still not sharp enough. But for those eight [new] players to play in front of a fantastic crowd, it shows really strong potential for Japanese rugby.

I agree. That was loads of fun, but they need to beef up when carrying into contact. Far too many spilled balls.

Now time to hear from Steve Borthwick:

I’m really pleased with the result. I thought the application of the players was excellent. Late in the game our cohesion broke up a little against a fast Japanese team who took their chances.

I thought the [ball retention] of the Japanese was excellent. They were excellent and we had to defend really well to keep them out.

Here’s Jamie George:

I thought it was a really tough game. The conditions were really difficult. Really proud with the way we went about our business.

[Japan] are a fantastic team, we knew they would be well drilled. We couldn’t have more respect for Eddie as a person and a coach. I’m sure Japan are going to have success for a number of years.

It took us a little while to get used to the conditions. Off the back of that we were efficient with the ball. We have talented backs with a lot of speed and we managed to show that today.

Charlie Ewels becomes the first man to be sent off twice for England. Is that the last we see of him in an England shirt?

Get a load of this magic from Dearns:

Eight tries for England and comprehensive winners. They bossed it through their forwards and showed enough class in the backline. Japan improved in the second half and scored two stunners themselves, but the gulf was too great. Concern for Ewels who copped a deserving red card, but this was a positive start to Borthwick’s summer tour.

80+1: F Smith chips ahead for Lawrence who dives but can;t quite reach it. He knocks on and that’ll be that.

80 min: Marler comes up with a turnover and Randall punts a better box-kick. Yamasawa fields a F Smith kick on the ground and chooses to run it back rather than kick himself. He’s bundled out of touch so England will have one last shot from a line-out on Japan’s 22.

Just as I thought, Charlie Ewels has his yellow card upgraded to red. No mitigation, no excuses, no leniency for that sort of recklessness. That could see him miss out on the tour of New Zealand but them’s the breaks.

Underhill caps off a brilliant performance with a try! He deserves that. Having won the penalty he gets on the end of a rolling maul. It’s a perfectly set set-piece and he falls over in a blink of an eye. F Smith converts.

76 min: Yamasawa has to clean up right on his own line after F Smith nudges a grubber ahead following another stonking carry from Earl (my pick for player of the match). But Japan, though, give away another penalty as Underhill gets over the ball (yet again) so they’ll have to defend a line-out five out.

74 min: Matsuda hoofs a ball out on the full. That’s his first mistake since coming on. So England get the line-out beyond Japan’s 22.

No doubt about it, Ewels deserves that and could get this upgraded to a red. He has flown in on the angle, hammering the side of the breakdown and smashing Leitch’s knee. Thankfully the Japan captain saw it coming and lifting his leg just in time. If his leg remained braced it might have ended with something far more serious than a bump.

72 min: England win a line-out inside Japan’s 22. The maul is solid but stationary. Japan then win a penalty after Ewels flies into the side on the angle. That was reckless and potentially dangerous. He might get a yellow card here.

It’s certainly been morale boosting, but they need to sharpen up for the final 10 minutes.

Stunner! Warner Dearns with a piece of magic! The off-load on half-way is behind him but he plucks it out of the air with one hand, gets it under control and then storms ahead through a gap. With options either side of him he picks the right pass to his inside where Yamasawa is on the support line and canters over for a score. That is the try of the game! Matsuda with the extras.

Japan have their score! And it’s a good ‘un! A strong carry from Yamamoto got it going. Dearns, the lock, throws a lovely spiralling pass wide with the overlap forming and Nezuka the winger pins his earns back and dives to the corner, sparking memories of Brighton 2015. Matusda converts and Japan reach double figures.

66 min: Marcus Smith’s yellow card comes to an end but it’s Finn Smith who joins the party instead. Ewels also makes a Test return.

64 min: Fujiwara, the replacement nine, wins an impressive turnover penalty on the floor. Great heart from the little man. But Japan can’t keep the ball and it’s England with it again around half-way. Randall’s box-kick is a poor one and a teammate strays off-side. Japan, again, tap and go quickly, and kick to the corner. But the ball stays in play and Freeman has to work hard to clean up at the back. He does well and support arrives in time. Randall gets more distance on his clearing kick and Japan will have the line-out feed just beyond England’s 22.

63 min: England do get the scrum penalty and Earl taps and goes from the base. Lawrence gives away cheap possession though so Japan, through Matsuda, clears away with a hefty boot. A slight lull in the game. A breath before the final plunge.

61 min: England’s scrum consumes Japan’s. There’s no penalty, it’ll just be a reset. But the Japanese forwards look knackered. Roebuck replaces Fayi-Woboso who had another top match.

Inevitable. Off the back of meaty carries, Randall picks up and falls over the line. They’ll call that a snipe, but really it was simply a pick and go from the scrum-half. Japan melted away on defence. Slade converts as Smith remains on the naughty bench.

58 min: Fayi-Woboso plucks a ball from the skies and sets England on their way. In a flash they’re five out. Stuart and Curry both carry with intent. Matter of time now…

56 min: Japan now cough up a penalty at the scrum for going early. From having the line-out with a man advantage and five metres from the line, they’re now defending a line-out around the half-way line. Not accurate enough from the Brave Blossoms and they’re being punished.

55 min: Japan lose the ball in contact (again) after setting a maul from a line-out. That is one area of the game they really need to work on. You know, given this is a contact sport. They’ve simply been bullied in the collision.

Oh yes, Marcus Smith tackles Yazaki off the ball. It was Naikabula’s off-load that put his fullback free with only two metres to go. There’s no penalty try which I think is the wrong call. Only Cole was covering and I am not convinced he would have made the ground in time. Still, Japan have a penalty within touching distance of England’s line.

54 min: Japan reach 10 phases and make some ground. Leitch gets the drive going. Oh, there’s a wonderful off-load and Naikabula is hauled down mere metres out. Japan keep it close before spiralling wide. England almost snatch an intercept. Was that a deliberate knock-on? Or was there a tackle off the ball from Smith? Either way, the referees are consulting their colleagues on the telly.

52 min: Mitchell’s assist will be his last contribution as he’s replaced by Randall. Curry makes his return to the England side. Underhill makes way with a bleeding face.

Earl gets his reward for all his hard work. Mitchell heavily involved again but that’s simple work for a nine of his quality. Thanks to England’s dominance in the collision, Mitchell is always working with front-foot ball. Once a gap is spotted he picks the right pass and Earl, cutting from left to right, powers over the line at close range. Smith slices the conversion.

48 min: England are held up over the line but have a penalty advantage. That was lovely work with Slade at first receiver igniting the move from the line-out after the maul failed to rumble on. Then Smith shovelled it on for Furbank joining the line and Fayi-Woboso brought it close with a tremendous leg drive after taking a hit. England came close but sharp defence held them up over the line. Still, they kick to the corner and will go again.

47 min: Underhill does Underhill things. By that I mean he gets over the ball on the ground and steals a penalty. He’s one of the best in the world at that. Once he gets in position there’s no shoving him off. A wonderful raking touch finder puts England about eight metres out with the throw to the line.

45 min: Changes for England with Dan replacing George and Marler, on for his 94th cap, coming on for Rodd. They’ll pack down around halfway after an England knock-on from a counter attack. And they’ll concede a penalty try at the first time of asking. Japan tap and go quickly.

Far too easy. It’s a sniping jink from Mitchell round the fringe of the ruck, and a cute dummy to create the space, but that’s poor from Japan who simply switched off. Strong work from the England forwards to get Mitchell within striking distance from a rolling maul and a George break off the set-piece. Smith slots the extras. This could get ugly for the home side.

42 min: Early penalty for England (apologies, there was a glitch on my feed but all good now). Smith punts to the corner and Cunningham-South brings down the line-out. The maul stutters before George breaks.

The players are just about ready to get going. Japan need a serious lift. Unfortunately, unless they each bulked up by by around 10 kilos, I’m not sure they’ll get what’s required of them.

And here’s Smith’s try. My pick of the bunch.


England fully in control. Japan have been frenetic and looked like running away with it early on. But England weathered the storm and once they began dominating the point of contact it was one-way traffic.

Outstanding! That is brilliant from Marcus Smith who shifted the direction of attack, spotted Slade on the wing and executed a perfect cross-field kick. Slade had to leap to gather, but that was put on a plate for him by Smith who is having a great game. He misses the conversion but that’s merely a footnote on an otherwise perfect show.

40+1 min: After the half-time siren, Japan win the line-out. They go down the line but Fayi-Woboso rushes up and snatches an intercept. England set an attack and creep into Japan’s 22 with a carry from Itoje. Smith lines up a cross kick….

39 min: Cunningham-Smith is taken out in the air at the line-out so England get a penalty. But Japan win the ball back with a brilliant counter shove at the ruck. The clearing kick doesn’t go very far so it’ll be another England line-out. But Lawrence is beaten to the breakdown and Japan win a relieving penalty in their own 22.

37 min: Unless Japan can get around the fringe at lighting speed they’re just not able to find space. England are putting in huge hits on defence. So it devolves into a kick tennis match that ends with England winning a penalty at the breakdown. Smith kicks to the corner and it’ll be another line-out in Japan’s red zone.

35 min: Freeman does well to tip a high kick back to his side of the line. England set an attack down the line and go back infield with Martin carrying with power. Rodd now. Lawrence knocks on from Slade, who I think was intending to send that further down the line. Too flat from Lawrence.

33 min: Oh no! Costley thinks he’s scored for Japan but his spill was deemed to have gone forward. Not sure that it did but that’s the referee’s decision. Better from Japan who found some punch in midfield before tipping and passing it on down the line. That’s what happens when you get a dominant hit. Now England win a scrum penalty. Rugby can be so cruel sometimes.

Source: theguardian.com