England picked up an expected victory in their opening Rugby World Cup game against Tonga, despite a lacklustre overall display from Eddie Jones’ side.
They made a host of errors throughout the game and and didn’t look as convincing in victory as fellow tournament favourites like New Zealand and Ireland as they ended with a 35-3 win.
Manu Tuilagi grabbed a first half brace before Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie added two more tries as England notched up a bonus point victory.
The bonus point try came with just three minutes to go and speaking after the game Jones outlined that his side took inspiration from former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who visited the team in the build-up to the tournament, and his team’s happy knack of scoring late goals.
“We were lucky enough to have Sir Alex Ferguson in, and he was renowned for ‘Fergie time’, and the message was to be patient and that’s what I liked about our team today, we keep on and it came in the end, and that’s the sign of a good team.”
England may not have set the world alight in victory but Jones outlined that with a bonus point win and no injury concerns ahead of the upcoming game against USA, it’s very much a case of job done.
“We are really pleased. We came to get five points, we got five points, we have no injuries, we know we can play better, but sometimes rugby is like that.
“I’m so pleased with the attitude of the boys, that’s two tests without conceding a try. Now we can get better, that’s the aim for the USA game.
“The stadium was fantastic, what a great thing for rugby, to be up here in Hokkaido, probably closer to Russia than you want to be, and we had 45,000 people here. It’s a great day for rugby. We are part of his historic World Cup and that makes you feel pretty special.
Regardless of Jones’ perceived optimism there is no doubt that England will have to improve the deeper they go into the competition.
The England head coach insisted though, that the latter stages of the tournament aren’t concerning him just yet, and that the World Cup is a marathon and not a sprint.
“The only thing we have to worry about is the USA game. I’ve been to a few World Cups and it’s not a 100m sprint. You don’t have to start fantastic, you have to be steady and improve and have a mindset of improvement and that’s what we have.”