England edged closer to the last eight at the rugby union World Cup on Sunday night following a 34-12 victory over Japan at the Allianz Riviera in Nice. But the fans were happy.
The result with a bonus point leaves Steve Borthwick's side a win away from securing a berth in the knockout stages from Group D. That success should be obtained next Saturday at the Stade Pierre Mauroy against World Cup debutants Chile.
And it will be hailed as a triumph. England entered the tournament on the back of a dreadful streak that had furnished them with only two wins from their nine games in 2023.
Fly-half George Ford orchestrated the 14-man 27-10 win over Argentina in the opening match in Marseille on 9 September by kicking all 27 points.
And the 30-year-old, who collected 14 points on Sunday night, was deemed man-of-the-match for executing a rugged and unenthralling kicking strategy.
“Delighted with another win," he deapanned after he was presented with his trophy.
"A tough game. We knew it would be as Japan never give in.
"We had to change the way we attack to get the points we needed but there’s no frustration from our end. We know what it takes to win test matches. We’re two from two. But we’ve got to get better next week, and there’s more in us.”
Eleven handling errors told the grim story of the first-half in which Ford and his Japanese counterpart, Rikiya Matsuda, swapped penalties in the first 17 minutes. After the water break, Matsuda knocked over another.
Ford added the two points for a 10-6 lead after 30 minutes.
“I'm emotionally drained,” said Simon Raiwalui, who took over as Fiji's coach in February. “I couldn't be prouder.”
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