November 11, 2012
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Seven-try England overpower Fiji

England launched their European autumn series with a commanding 54-12 win over Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday.

Stuart Lancaster's men outscored Fiji seven tries to two and the match was all but over as a contest at half-time with England 25-0 up.

England's fifth win in as many Test against Fiji, battling to overcome issues of player release for this tour, was also their record margin of victory ovet the Pacific Islanders, surpassing the 35-point gap they recorded in a 58-23 success at Twickenham in 1989.

Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples scored his first two tries for England, who also saw Harlequins wing Ugo Monye and blindside flanker Tom Johnson touch down in a tally that also included a penalty try and two late scores by Manu Tuilagi.

Outside-half Toby Flood kicked 17 points

Fiji avoided the embarrassment of being 'nilled' when scrum-half Nikola Matawalu scored a fine solo try in the 54th minute and replacement Seko Kalou crossed in the final minute.

Sterner challenges will confront England when southern hemisphere giants Australia (November 17), South Africa (November 24) and world champions New Zealand all visit Twickenham on successive weekends.

If England maintain their top four position in the International Rugby Board rankings, the 2015 World Cup hosts will be among the top seeds when the pool stage draw for the global showpiece takes place next month.

England initially tried to play too much rugby without first securing forward dominance and their problems intensified when they were reduced to 14 men in the 10th minute.

Scrum-half Danny Care was sin-binned by Test debutant referee Glen Jackson, acting on the advice of a touch judge, for a dangerous tackle on Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa.

Fiji nearly exploited the gap left by Care in England's ruck defence with blindside flanker Api Naikatini and No 8 Akapusi Qera charging towards the line before a knock-on scuppered hopes of a try.

Fiji's Metuisala Talebula then missed a second penalty chance and it was England, still a man down, who opened the scoring through a Flood penalty.

Fiji's failure to make England pay for being a man down was compounded when Care returned to help create the hosts' first try in the 22nd minute.

Care made a half-break and the ball was moved quickly along the line before full-back Alex Goode fed Sharples, playing instead of the suspended Chris Ashton, and he evaded several poor attempted tackles for his first Test try.

Flood added the conversion and England were 10-0 before the Leicester stand-off's penalty made it 13-0.

Fiji then fell foul of former Saracens fly-half Jackson when captain Deacon Manu was sin-binned for persistent offside.

In the prop's absence, Fiji conceded a penalty try from a scrum -- a moment to savour for England debutant hooker Tom Youngs -- in the 36th minute and worse followed for the Islanders on the stroke of half-time.

England caught Fiji napping when Goode's quickly-taken penalty sent Monye over in the left corner.

Flood saw his difficult conversion hit the far post -- his first wayward goalkick -- but he was soon adding another penalty early in the second half.

Then a flowing move saw Flood and Goode combine before England captain Chris Robshaw sent in Johnson for his fellow back-row's first Test try.

Fiji hit back with a superb solo effort from Glasgow's Matawalu, who picked off a pass from Monye, stepped past centre Tuilagi and then won the race to his own chip ahead.

England, though, soon had another try when Flood's looping pass sent in Sharples for his second of the match.

Amidst the welter of replacements, Ben Youngs, Tom's brother, came on for Care. The sons of former England scrum-half Nick Youngs became the 10th set of brothers to play in the same England side and the first since Steffon and Delon Armitage in 2009.

Then, inside the final 10 minutes, Tuilagi bolstered England's victory margin with two tries before Kalou had the last word.

AFP







 

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