2023 Rugby World Cup – England v Samoa
Venue: Stade Pierre Mauroy Date: Saturday, 7 October Kick-off: 16.45 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus textual content updates on the BBC Sport web site and app
Going into the World Cup, issues regarded bleak for England.
A fourth-place end at the Six Nations, a leaky defence, a spate of crimson playing cards and warm-up defeats by Wales, Ireland and Fiji ensured expectations had been at all-time low.
Yet simply over three weeks later, Steve Borthwick’s facet have secured their passage to the quarter-finals with a sport to spare – and as pool winners.
Victories over Argentina, Japan and Chile put England in charge of Pool D earlier than their knockout place was secured with out them even having to set foot on the area.
Japan’s win over Samoa meant England – a few of whose gamers had been noticed at Disneyland with their households throughout just a few days off earlier this week – can’t be caught at the summit of their pool. This is how they made it.
Ford kicks England off regardless of Curry crimson
When you’re a workforce scratching round for kind, you typically must depend on particular person brilliance to encourage the collective.
Step ahead George Ford in England’s opening sport towards Argentina, their solely tier-one opposition in the pool.
Fly-half Ford kicked three drop-goals to provide his facet a 12-3 half-time lead. England managed the second half and Ford added 15 factors from penalties as Borthwick’s facet began with a morale-boosting 27-10 win.
It might have all gone horribly mistaken after Tom Curry was controversially despatched off through bunker evaluation for a third-minute conflict of heads, in what has confirmed the first of a number of divisive speaking factors impressed by the new system.
But it was an old school, hard-fought win which has encapsulated the no-nonsense method by which England have navigated their pool.
Bonus factors secured as Brave Blossoms crushed
Any hopes that England would possibly kick on with glowing rugby having crushed their fundamental pool challengers in the opening sport, had been dashed by the nature of their win over Japan in week two.
The rating of 34-12 was comfy, nevertheless it – and the bonus level for scoring 4 tries – was solely secured with the final play of the sport.
Lewis Ludlam scored the solely strive of a primary half suffering from England errors, earlier than Rikiya Matsuda’s boot had Japan inside some extent at 13-12 early in the second.
A fortuitous strive from captain Courtney Lawes, after the ball had bounced off the head of Joe Marler, gave respiratory house and the lead was prolonged in the latter levels.
But England wanted a spark from someplace. Step ahead Henry Arundell.
Five-star Arundell too sizzling for Chile
Against debutants Chile, it was by no means going to be about whether or not England would safe victory however how they might do it.
Thanks to Arundell in his first World Cup look, it was with fashion and ease. The 20-year-old scored 5 of England’s 11 tries, in the course of placing himself prime of the match scoring charts.
Also spectacular was Marcus Smith at full-back, who scored the greatest strive of the match by racing on to his personal kick.
Owen Farrell returned to the workforce after a four-match ban and mixed effectively with Smith and Ford, guaranteeing Borthwick has a welcome headache in terms of becoming all the artistic expertise out there into his beginning XV.
The 71-0 win meant England would qualify for the final eight if Japan beat Samoa the following Thursday evening – which the Asian nation did, 28-22.
What comes subsequent?
England might now face Samoa of their closing pool match on 7 October with a rotated facet – which might comply with the victory over Chile by which a number of first-teamers had been rested, then per week off.
That would imply the workforce’s massive hitters might have three weeks off earlier than their quarter-final towards the runner-up in Pool C – which appears to be like more likely to be Fiji.
Fiji defeated England 30-22 at Twickenham of their closing World Cup warm-up and have crushed Australia at this match, so England should step up one other stage ought to they face the Pacific islanders.
Victory would arrange a semi-final towards the Pool A winners or the runners-up in Pool B – which because it stands could be France and South Africa respectively.
Whatever occurs, it’s about to get a lot harder for England.