England A retain perfect record

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The Independent Online

Jim Mallender, the England A coach, congratulated his jet-lagged side after they continued their unbeaten tour with a five-try victory over a Japan Select XV yesterday.

In rainy, humid conditions at Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium, England built on an 11-10 half-time lead to end with a comprehensive 37-10 victory. Olly Barkley did the most damage scoring two tries in his 22-point haul. The win was England's fourth in four games against Canada, the United States (twice) and yesterday's Test-strength select side, with Sunday's match against Japan remaining.

After a trans-Pacific journey which has seen them win the Churchill Cup in Vancouver Barkley admitted England are still recovering from the travel. "It was a tough first half and we struggled to acclimatise to the heat and humidity, especially with the jet-lag," he said. "We played with more control in the second half but there is still a lot to work on."

Mallender added: "Fair play to Japan, they put us under a lot of pressure and forced us into turnovers. But I was pleased with the way we responded in the second half. We started to control the game, driving a few line-outs and playing for field position a lot more.

"After winning four out of four games so far we'll be looking to finish the tour successfully at the weekend."

Mallinder reserved special praise for the London Irish prop Neal Hatley, making his first start on the tour. He said: "Neal was particularly good in the loose and did a lot of hard work. For a big fella he got around very well."

Pete Anglesea, Phil Christophers and Dan Scarbrough also added tries while Japan's scores came from an Ohata Daisuke try and a penalty and conversion from Hirose Keiji.

* The Wales flanker Gavin Thomas has left Bath to sign a three-year deal with new combined Neath-Swansea club. The 25-year-old made his international debut in 2001 and has won 14 caps.