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England: (13) 34
Tries: Ludlam, Lawes, Steward, Marchant Pens: Ford 2 Cons: Ford 4
Japan: (9) 12
Pens: Matsuda 4

England edged closer to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, but did little to impress in a scrappy 34-12 win over Japan in Nice.

Lewis Ludlam forced his way over from close range for the only try of a first half littered with England errors.

Rikiya Matsuda’s boot had Japan within a point at 13-12 early in the second half before a fortuitous try from captain Courtney Lawes, after the ball had bounced off the head of Joe Marler, gave England some breathing space.

Freddie Steward collected a cross-kick to deftly dot down and end any hopes Japan had of another Rugby World Cup upset to follow their famous scalping of South Africa in 2015 and Joe Marchant dived over in the final play of the match.

But it was neither a scoreline or a performance to worry any of the tournament’s main contenders.

If anything, it will have confirmed to market leaders France, Ireland and South Africa that they are still operating several levels above England.

The whistles and jeers that followed several of England’s decisions to kick away attacking ball suggested some of their fans were similarly unimpressed.

Two victories from two matches against arguably their two strongest Pool D rivals means Steve Borthwick’s side are well set for the quarter-finals.

But they will need steep and stark improvement against Chile and Samoa to be in shape for the step up to knockout rugby.

More to follow.


England: Steward; May, Marchant, Tuilagi, Daly; Ford, Mitchell; Marler, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Chessum, Lawes (capt), Earl, Ludlam.

Replacements: Dan, Genge, Stuart, Martin, Vunipola, Youngs, Smith, Lawrence.

Japan: Masirewa; Matsushima, Osada, Nakamura, Naikabula; Matsuda, Nagare; Inagaki, Horie, Gu, Cornelsen, Fakatava, Leitch, Labuschagne, Himeno (capt)

Replacements: Sakate, Millar, Ai Valu, Dearns, Shimokawa, Saito, Riley, Lemeki.

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