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England took a step closer to securing a spot in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, but their performance left much to be desired in a gritty 34-12 victory over Japan in Nice.
In a first half marred by England’s errors, Lewis Ludlam managed to force his way over for the sole try. Rikiya Matsuda’s precise kicking kept Japan in contention, trailing only 13-12 early in the second half. A fortunate try by captain Courtney Lawes, aided by a fortuitous bounce off Joe Marler’s head, provided England with some breathing room. Freddie Steward’s skillful collection of a cross-kick dashed Japan’s hopes of an upset, while Joe Marchant added a final try in the closing moments.
Despite the win, England’s performance failed to impress, and it seemed evident that tournament frontrunners France, Ireland, and South Africa still outclassed them. Fans expressed their discontent with England’s decisions to kick away attacking opportunities.
With two wins against their strongest Pool D rivals, England is well-positioned for the quarter-finals. However, they must drastically improve their play against Chile and Samoa to compete effectively in knockout rugby.
While England demonstrated moments of promise, their game was plagued by mistakes in both attack and defense.
Pool D | England 34:12 Japan
TRIES Lewis Ludlam (24′), Courtney Lawes (56′), Freddie Steward (66′), Joe Marchant (81′)
CONV George Ford (26′, 56′, 67′, 81′)
PENS George Ford (4′, 42′)
PENS Rikiya Matsuda (15′, 23′, 32′, 54′)
Stade de Nice, Nice
Man of the match:
George Ford (England)
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