England triumph but Wales falter against Japan

Hugh Godwin details promising wins for England and Ireland but finds Welsh worries in a summer of much-changed national sides

Depleted England can be proud of series triumph ...

Argentina is the land where brutal scrummaging vies with the tango and great steaks as a national motif, so the opening 25 minutes of the first Test in Salta, during which England put three tries past a back-pedalling pack, was an embarrassment for the hosts, and food for thought for the fixture-makers who have forced the top Pumas to choose between gaining release for a June incoming tour or for the now higher-profile Rugby Championship with New Zealand, South Africa and Australia from August to October. The absence of umpteen Europe-based stalwarts left Argentina on the end of a first double Test defeat at home to England, and the tourists' first series win in the country since 1981.

England can nevertheless be proud both of their more expansive play, guided by Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns, and the emphatic nature of the clean sweep under the captaincy of Tom Wood in the absence at the outset of eight current internationals away with the Lions plus Alex Goode, Dylan Hartley, Chris Robshaw, Brad Barritt, Toby Flood and Chris Ashton either injured, suspended or rested.

There was more disruption between the Tests when Billy Twelvetrees and Christian Wade left for the Lions, allowing the Gloucester wing Jonny May his first cap in Saturday's second Test in Buenos Aires as England fielded their youngest back division since the loss to Wales at Wembley in 1999.

The lively atmosphere at Velez Sarsfield was picked up by the Pumas with a return to tighter, pick-and-go tactics, but May's fellow wing debutant Marland Yarde of London Irish helped himself to two tries to add to a pair of penalty tries for England's dominant forwards in a 51-26 victory.

Yarde received an expert final pass for his second try from Kyle Eastmond, who scored one himself with a jinking run and was another new cap on tour alongside Wade, flanker Matt Kvesic, tighthead prop Henry Thomas, fly-half Steve Myler (from the bench in Buenos Aires) and the hefty Saracens-bound No 8 Billy Vunipola, who claimed a hat-trick in the slightly stuttering, non-cap win over a Consur XV that began the tour in Uruguay, and trundled to another try in Salta.

Face of the future: Matt Kvesic (Gloucester, flanker)

If England are to make good on head coach Stuart Lancaster's promise to play a fast game with a footballing inside centre, a tearaway open-side flanker would be part of the plan. Gloucester's new signing Kvesic, 21, advanced his case with his first two full caps in Argentina, his stunning statistics in Salta including 29 tackles, 17 breakdowns hit and seven carries.

... while Wales are Japan's first top-rank victims

Japan was not so much the Land of the Rising Sun as a total eclipse for the Six Nations champions when they lost the second of their two Tests in Tokyo on Saturday – a first win for the Japanese over one of rugby's traditional powers, albeit in compromised circumstances for the Welsh. In the absence of 15 players with the Lions and six others injured, Wales made a questionable lurch towards full-on development rather than call on the likes of James Hook, Paul James, Matthew Rees, Ryan Jones, Dwayne Peel, Duncan Jones, Jonathan Thomas or Lee Byrne. If there was a sense they had got away with it by winning the first match in Osaka 22-18, nine days ago, they could not back it up in hot and humid Tokyo, Japan prevailing 23-8.

"One to 23 we have to be on the money," was how one of the few available front-line players, Dan Biggar, described the second Test task, but the Japanese know a devalued currency when they see one and they seized a first full international win over Wales at the ninth attempt. On Wales's tour to Japan in 2001, which also coincided with the Lions in Australia, they won both Tests comfortably, scoring 117 points. This time in Osaka, the caretaker coaches Robin McBryde and Shaun Edwards fielded seven new caps, and the deciding score was a penalty by the replacement fly-half Rhys Patchell in the 79th minute. But Wales were outscored two tries to one, ending their run of no tries conceded in the previous four internationals.

The try count was the same in Tokyo, where Wales included two more debutants in flanker Josh Navidi and replacement hooker Scott Baldwin, while Saracens' Rhys Gill was recalled to boost the scrum, but Japan had 312 caps to Wales's meagre 102, and led 6-3 at half-time. Wales's pocket rocket Harry Robinson put himself about, and his fellow wing Tom Prydie scored for an 8-6 lead. Japan, guided by the former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones, responded with quick recycling, breaking first-up tackles, for their tries by Craig Wing and Michael Broadhurst, an Australian-born centre and New Zealander flanker respectively.

Face of the future: Liam Williams (Scarlets, full-back)

Losing his shaggy locks for the Japanese summer, the exciting understudy to Leigh Halfpenny was unchanged in full-on commitment, solidity under the high ball and wide range of defensive and attacking skills. A prime weapon with turnover ball, the 22-year-old has the awareness to bring team-mates into play.

Scotland give South Africa a good run for their money

International competitions are appearing like pop-up coffee shops, with a Tbilisi Cup here, a Nations Cup there, and Scotland headed to South Africa to take part in the new Quad Series, which sounds like one for the muscle men.

This mini-tournament comprising two of Scotland's 2015 World Cup pool opponents – the Springboks and Samoa – plus Six Nations rivals Italy began badly with the Scots' first ever loss to the Samoans, 27-17 in Durban. Handing out six new caps, Scotland fell to a blast from the Premiership's past in the mountainous form of Alesana Tuilagi, once of Leicester, now playing alongside Shane Williams in the Japanese league. Tuilagi scored two tries while Scotland felt "bullied", according to the scorer of their solitary try, Sean Lamont.

Moving to new Test venue Nelspruit on the high veldt on Saturday, the aim for Scotland without their four Lions, and a handful of others injured, including the captain Kelly Brown and fly-half Tom Heathcote, was to find some continuity and structure. They introduced three more debutants – Tim Swinson in the second row and Tommy Seymour and Peter Murchie in the back three – under the new captaincy of scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, and gave the world's second-ranked team, South Africa, a magnificent run for their rands despite another defeat, 30-17.

Fly-half Ruaridh Jackson went off before half-time when Jannie du Plessis smashed his shoulder, but Alasdair Strokosch did good work at the breakdown and nicely constructed tries by the centres Matt Scott and Alex Dunbar had Scotland an amazing 17-6 ahead after 45 minutes before the inevitable Bok resurgence.

It may be unsettling for the Scots to have had Dean Ryan as forwards coach temporarily for this year's Six Nations Championship, and to now wait for their new head coach Vern Cotter to arrive from Clermont Auvergne. But this tournament will be viewed positively if interim head coach Scott Johnson can engineer a win over Italy in the third/fourth place match in Pretoria this Saturday.

Face of the future: Ian Madigan (Leinster, fly-half)

Jonny Sexton won't quite be out of sight, out of mind when he makes his big-money move to Racing Métro in France next season, but the vacancy he leaves as Leinster fly-half is a great opportunity for the 24-year-old Madigan to press for further honours. Combines solid basic skills with a dash of daring.

Ireland have a ball in the United States and Canada

With wins in both Tests against the United States in Houston and Canada in Toronto, watched by record rugby crowds for each country, and encouraging performances by Emerging Ireland in the IRB Tbilisi Cup and the Under-20s, who ran mighty New Zealand close in the World Junior Championship in France, the summer vibes are positive for the Irish.

Incoming head coach Joe Schmidt maintained a watching brief as Les Kiss – normally the defence specialist – picked a team to face the US including maybe only Peter O'Mahony, Simon Zebo and Mike Ross who would be considered likely starters if all the Lions and other absentees had been available. And Zebo was whisked away to Australia too before the Canada match.

Munster back-rower O'Mahony took on the captaincy in the absence of Jamie Heaslip, Brian O'Driscoll and Rory Best, while Leinster's wizardly Ian Madigan started in his favourite fly-half role after two previous internationals as a replacement centre. Devin Toner, at lock, was another to look comfortable with greater responsibility, overcoming some initial wobbles in the line-out during the 15-12 first-Test win over the Eagles, when Ireland's starting XV had a total of 119 caps, the lowest since the match against England in 1962 when the great Willie John McBride made his debut.

The two starting debutants in Houston – Connacht full-back Robbie Henshaw and Ulster's inside centre Stuart Olding – gained purring reviews from Schmidt, who is working to recruit a forwards coach and kicking coach and will take over in his own right for the opening November Test against Samoa, while flanker Tommy O'Donnell and front-rowers Mike Sherry and Jamie Hagan won first caps off the bench.

Madigan's five penalties held the edge over four for the US by Saracens' Chris Wyles, but Saturday was much more clear-cut as Canada were beaten 40-14 with Leinster's Fergus McFadden scoring three tries to go with those by Darren Cave, Andrew Trimble and O'Donnell.

Face of the future: Matt Scott (Edinburgh, centre)

After just over a year in the Scotland team, Scott looks to have provided the answer to the long search for a quality centre. The 22-year-old plays with his head up and used his good footwork to make his try against South Africa on Saturday, while his fast hands fed Alex Dunbar for Scotland's second score.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
people

Far-right organisation has defended its actions on Facebook

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo, writes Paul Scholes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker