England vs Fiji match report: Eddie Jones' winning run stretched to 11th game with dominant win

England 58 Fiji 15: Jonathan Joseph, Semesa Rokoduguni and Joe Launchbury crossed twice as the hosts scored nine tries at Twickenham

Hugh Godwin
at Twickenham
Saturday 19 November 2016 17:44
Joseph crosses the whitewash for his second try of the day
Joseph crosses the whitewash for his second try of the day

A liberal sprinkling of south-seas flair among both teams livened up a chilly afternoon at Twickenham, with three tries by Fiji punctuating what was otherwise a predictable win for England in the second of their four autumn internationals.

The essential debates over how and why so many Pacific-Islander players re-qualify to represent other countries, amid the huge disparity in wealth between unions - no one generates as much cash each year as England’s – crystallised into an 80-minute battle between one team based entirely in the Aviva Premiership and another drawn from clubs dotted around Europe and the south Pacific.

The superiority held by England was manifested in five tries in the opening 26 minutes for the home side, as slick handling and a couple of short-range drives from line-outs put Jonathan Joseph, Elliot Daly, Semesa Rokoduguni and forwards Teimana Harrison and Joe Launchbury over the line.

Rokoduguni goes over for his first international try

It was a first international try for the Fijian-born British Army soldier Rokoduguni, as well as for Daly of Wasps on the left wing, and the Northampton flanker Harrison, recalled after a chastening experience on tour in Australia last summer.

And the first two of the three successful conversions by Owen Farrell in that punishing opening period eased the Saracens fly-half - playing here in what is becoming his accustomed England position of inside centre - past 500 Test points on his 45th appearance for his country.

Thankfully for those in the capacity crowd wondering whether they were seeing a one-sided procession in return for their £60 adult tickets, Fiji enjoyed a mini-revival in the run-up to half-time, and just after it.

The mighty Nemani Nadolo – all 6ft 5ins and almost 20 stone of him – revived memories of another giant wing who rampaged around Twickenham more than once; this was a year and a day since the tragically untimely passing of Jonah Lomu.

Nadolo, who plays for Montpellier in France, had his big moment after Fiji fumbled an attacking line-out but gained a five-metre scrum when England carried back into their own in-goal.

An initial blast by Nadolo was bravely halted by England’s fly-half George Ford, but the play went to the right and back to the left again, where Nadolo, in space, brushed off Rokoduguni’s cover tackle as an officer worker might slip off his coat on arriving home.

Nadolo was also Fiji’s front-line goal-kicker but his ungainly conversion attempt slid wide, before Farrell’s quickly-taken penalty for a scrum collapse had England 34-5 up after 37 minutes.

There was time before the interval isotonics for Leone Nakarawa – the brilliantly rangy Fiji second row who was in his country’s gold-medal-winning sevens team at the Rio Olympics in August – to shrug off Ben Youngs and Rokoduguni for the islanders’ second try.

Three minutes into the second half an arcing run by Fiji full-back Metuisela Talebula gave him his 11th Test try, and pegged England back to 34-15.

England’s second Fijian-born novice, the Wasps back-rower Nathan Hughes, came on for Harrison soon afterwards, with an obstruction by the Tongan-descended prop Mako Vunipola having denied the New Zealand-born-and-raised captain Dylan Hartley in the meantime. Truly, this was a cosmopolitan occasion at the old stadium.

Goode falls under a tackle during the second half

Farrell’s last act before being replaced by Ben Te’o was the conversion of Alex Goode’s try in the 50 th minute, then Joseph picked off a loosely looped pass from Josh Matavesi to score his second try and England’s seventh, converted by Ford.

England’s head coach Eddie Jones had resisted making wholesale changes after last weekend’s 37-21 win over South Africa, believing additional experimentation to be unnecessary or unwelcome with Argentina and Australia still to come here in the next fortnight.

The England bench was emptied, nevertheless, with a second cap for Harlequins’ tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler and a first for Bath lock Charlie Ewels set alongside the reassimilation of Exeter playmaker Henry Slade.

Now based around a pacy midfield trio of Ford, Te’o and Slade, England attempted to keep playing rugby that was both wide and controlled. It brought a second try apiece for Rokoduguni and Launchbury – but no England score in the final 10 minutes, which was a tribute to Fijian resolve.

England: A Goode; S Rokoduguni, J Joseph (rep H Slade, 66 mins), O Farrell (B Te’o 53), E Daly; G Ford, B Youngs (D Care 53); M Vunipola (J Marler 51), D Hartley (capt; J George 51), D Cole (K Sinckler 58), J Launchbury, C Lawes (C Ewels 66), C Robshaw, T Harrison (N Hughes 48), B Vunipola.

Tries: Joseph 2, Daly, Rokoduguni 2, Harrison, Launchbury 2, Goode; Conversions: Farrell 4, Ford; Penalty: Farrell.

Fiji: M Talebula; B Masivelu (K Murimurivalu 61), A Tikoirotuma, A Vulivuli, N Nadolo; J Matavesi, S Vularika (N Matawalu 41); C Ma’afu (P Ravai 6), S Koto Vuli (T Talemaitoga 52), M Saulo (L Atalifo 66), A Ratuniyarawa (N Soqeta 54), L Nakarawa, D Waqaniburotu (E Radrodro 74), P Yato, A Qera (capt; N Dawai 59).

Tries: Nadolo, Nakarawa, Talebula.

Referee: M Mitrea (Italy).

Attendance: 81,409.

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