Day eight at the Rugby World Cup: England pass USA test
England safely negotiated the threat of the United States as their World Cup gathered momentum with a comfortable 45-7 victory at the Kobe Misaki Stadium.
Earlier on in the day, Italy made it two wins out of two ahead of crunch clashes against South Africa and New Zealand by brushing aside Canada 48-7 at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium.
Here, the PA news agency reflects on the action and takes a long-range look at Saturday’s fixtures.
England defied the suffocating humidity in Kobe to run in seven tries in a straightforward bonus-point victory, guaranteeing they collected maximum points from their opening two fixtures in Pool C.
George Ford started proceedings with the first try under the posts while Billy Vunipola and Luke Cowan-Dickie touched down from driving mauls.
Wing Joe Cokanasiga scored two tries in the second half, with Ruaridh McConnochie and Lewis Ludlum also getting on the scoresheet, while Ford added 10 points with the boot.
This was a more accomplished display than the underwhelming victory over Tonga in their opener ahead of the key battles with Argentina and France.
…as USA see red
Having been thoroughly outclassed, the USA’s day was compounded when flanker John Quill received the first red card of the tournament for a horrible challenge on England captain Owen Farrell.
Eddie Jones predicted that playing the USA would be like facing “15 Donald Trumps – aggressive, brash, ready to take on the world”.
Quill’s shoulder-led charge on the second-half replacement left a lot to be desired and Farrell was fortunate to escape a serious injury.
However, the USA avoided being blanked courtesy of Bryce Campbell’s late converted try as England were caught on the counter-attack.
O’Shea purrs after Italy breeze past Canada
Azzurri head coach Conor O’Shea believes his side proved they are improving after the manner in which they disposed of Canada, having struggled against the same opponents in the 2015 edition.
O’Shea said: “Four years ago in England it was 23-18 when we played Canada and today it was a huge win for us.
“Compared to that you can see this was a great victory and we have shown great progression. We now must show our very best level in the next two matches.”
Stiffer tests await, however. Next up for Italy in Pool B is South Africa followed by defending champions New Zealand.
What’s to come?
A bumper Saturday is in store as tournament hosts Japan take on heavily-fancied Ireland at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Fukuroi, South Africa face Namibia at the City of Toyota Stadium while Argentina go up against Tonga in Higashiosaka.
Both Japan and Ireland have won their opening Pool A fixtures while the Springboks will be bidding to bounce back from their opening defeat against New Zealand.
Argentina and Tonga were beaten by France and England respectively last time out, and will be eyeing their first win at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium.