England 54-12 Fiji

By Tom FordyceBBC Sport chief sports writer at Twickenham
Highlights - England 54-12 Fiji

England outclassed Fiji in a seven-try rout to record a comprehensive victory in their opening autumn international.

Two tries from winger Charlie Sharples and 18 points from the boot of Toby Flood opened up a commanding lead before second-half scores from Tom Johnson, Ugo Monye and two from Manu Tuilagi punished the weary tourists.

England pleased with emphatic win

It was a victory founded on total dominance of the set-piece and maul, and if ruthless precision was sometimes missing from England's play, the result gives them a solid foundation for the sterner tests ahead.

Alex Goode impressed with his attacking bursts into the line from full-back and Sharples showed his finishing opportunism as coach Stuart Lancaster celebrated his first victory since taking permanent charge of the side.

Fiji scrum-half Nikola Matawalu conjured up the try of the match with a breakaway solo effort from deep inside his own half and Seko Kalou rumbled over at the death but in truth this was a disappointing display from the Pacific islanders.

England were rocked early on by the sin-binning of scrum-half Danny Care, yellow-carded for a marginal tip-tackle, and Fiji made initial muscular inroads.

Api Naikatani and Akapusi Qera thundered to within a few yards of the England try-line, only for handling errors to halt the momentum. Two long-range penalty attempts from Metuisela Talebula fell short.

With Care still off the field, Flood curled over his first penalty to edge England in front on their first visit to the visitors' 22, and then with the scrum-half back in place, Lancaster's men finally began to settle.

Quick ball from the pack and quick hands from Care sent Tuilagi past a defender's shoulder, and when Goode fed Sharples on the right touchline, the Gloucester winger did brilliantly to step, wriggle and reach through a thicket of Fijian arms to touch down for his first international try.

After a second penalty from Flood, Fiji's troubles worsened as captain and tight-head Deacon Manu was himself sin-binned; a clear overlap and second England try was blown by prop Joe Marler's pass in front of Brad Barritt.

Complete command of scrum and maul and repeated defensive infringements under the Fiji posts gave referee Glen Jackson no choice but to award England a penalty try for 20-0 five minutes before half-time, Sharples denied a second opportunistic score by the television match official after the impressive Goode had cut a mazy line.

Goode had stepped in at scrum-half during Care's spell in the bin and he seized the initiative again with a quick tap penalty on half-time to send Monye over in the left-hand corner.

Fiji had no answer to England's beef up front, and as Mako Vunipola came on for his debut in place of Marler the pressure told, even if Dan Cole ignored four men outside him to be held up over the line.

Goode took the ball at pace from Flood as space was created for Chris Robshaw and Tom Johnson flopped over for his debut England score. Flood's conversion made it 35-0, the only question now how many, and when rather than if.

Matawalu had other ideas. Seizing on a loose pass just outside his own 22, the Glasgow scrum-half accelerated up the right wing, kicked ahead and then kicked again before diving on the bouncing ball for the score of the match.

Opportunistic and outstanding, it nevertheless did nothing to change the overall plot. Overwhelming numbers out wide were exploited by a long mis-pass from Flood to allow Sharples to step inside for his second try and a 42-5 lead with a full quarter of the match to play.

Ben Youngs joined brother Tom on the pitch to become the 10th siblings to play together for England and the first since Delon and Steffon Armitage in 2009, while Care and Cole, Johnson, Flood and Monye all made way as England emptied the bench.

Replacement scrum-half Youngs went close to England's sixth try after a Sharples off-load in the right-hand corner opened a hole for a burrow to the line, a defender's knee dislodging the ball from his grasp.

Moments later quick hands from Youngs, Tom Wood and Brad Barritt sent Tuilagi crashing over from four yards out, and the huge centre smashed over again late on.

With Australia here at Twickenham next Saturday before South Africa and New Zealand arrive in the following two weeks, Lancaster will have a truer sense of his team's development at the end of the month.

But after a winless summer series against the Springboks he will be glad to see his side return to the winning form of this year's Six Nations.


England: 15-Alex Goode, 14-Charlie Sharples, 13-Manu Tuilagi, 12-Brad Barritt, 11-Ugo Monye, 10-Toby Flood, 9-Danny Care; 1-Joe Marler, 2-Tom Youngs, 3-Dan Cole, 4-Geoff Parling, 5-Tom Palmer, 6-Tom Johnson, 7-Chris Robshaw (captain), 8-Thomas Waldron.

Replacements: 16-David Paice (65 for T Youngs), 17-Dave Wilson (58 for Cole), 18-Mako Vunipola (46 for Marler), 19-Joe Launchbury (50 for Palmer), 20-Tom Wood (59 for Johnson), 21-Ben Youngs (58 for Care), 22-Owen Farrell (59 for Flood), 23-Mike Brown (59 for Monye)

Sin Bin: Care (10).

Fiji: 15-Simeli Koniferedi, 14-Samu Wara, 13-Vereniki Goneva, 12-Sireli Naqelevuki, 11-Watisoni Votu, 10-Metuisela Talebula, 9-Nicola Matawalu; 1-Ratu Makutu, 2-Viliame Veikoso, 3-Deacon Manu (captain), 4-Leone Nakawara, 5-Apisolame Ratuniyarawa, 6-Api Naikatani, 7-Malaki Ravulo, 8-Akapusi Qera.

Replacements: 16-Seremaia Naureure (47 for Veikoso), 17-Setafano Samoca (not used), 18-Manasa Saulo (67 for Manu), 19-Sekonaia Kalou (73 for Ratuniyarawa), 20-Iliesa Ratuva (52 for Naikatini), 21-Kelemedi Bola (not used), 22-Josh Matavesi (40 for Koniferedi), 23-Ravai Fatiaki (67 for Wara).

Sin Bin: Manu (29).


Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Marius Mitrea (Italy)

TV: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

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