England trounced Fiji 58-15 at Twickenham. Here are five talking points for England fans as they assess their team’s performance.
A Game of Unopposed
You know when you’re training as a starting XV and the subs have to hold the tackle bags whilst you run through your moves? That was what it was like for England against Fiji for the first 20 minutes at Twickenham. Metres gained at will and wave after wave of attack with the men holding the bags little more than cannon fodder. For a quarter of the test, it was a game of unopposed.
Semesa Rokoduguni was awarded the man of the match award after scoring a brace on his return to international duty. Displaying his uncanny strength alongside bursts of magic feet, it was a typical performance from the Bath flyer. But that doesn’t mean that it was all good.
Twice when he broke through the Fiji lines he was caught in two minds. On the first occasion, with greater international confidence, he may have chipped his way to the try line, but instead he decided to keep the ball in hand. In so doing, he was caught. The ball from the ruck was slowed, and England weren’t able to make the most the break.
Then in the second half, an early feed to Elliot Daly would have given the Wasp the space to stand his man up and aim for the line. Instead, Rokoduguni drifted leftwards, depriving Daly of the requisite space.
Rokodunguni did the finer things well, but Eddie Jones will also demand a bit more thought from the ex-serviceman.
England’s soft underbelly: defence
England’s defence against both South Africa and Fiji has been lacking in intensity – way off the stellar performance in the second test in Australia. Nemani Nadolo was afforded far too much space for his score and then four players missed Leone Nakarawa as he crossed for Fiji’s second.
England’s defence is a concern.
England start with two outside centres
In mid-2015, Australia coach Michael Cheika announced that he would field two opensides in the Wallaby starting 15 – Michael Hooper and David Pocock. Now Eddie Jones has gone for two 13s in his line-up. It worked, too. England will face sterner tests than the Fijians, but Jones will be pleased with how Elliot Daly joined the line from out wide and linked up seamlessly in midfield.
Indeed, on occasions it was Joseph who was on the left wing.
With Jonny May expected to be fit for Argentina, and Rokoduguni scoring twice, watch this space. It is going to be very interesting to see who lines up on the England wings against the Pumas.
Goode does as promised
Alex Goode, the gifted Saracen, did as he promised and didn’t pull out any rabbits from the proverbial hat. It was an accomplished if unspectacular performance from full-back, but still one which highlighted his value to England. His handling for Rokoduguni’s first try was superb. Those years playing at fly-half were clearly in evidence.
Mike Brown’s principal worth to this backline is as the enforcer. But were Rokoduguni to retain favour on the wing – and thereby grant England one power-runner in the backs, then Jones would surely find it very hard to omit Goode.
Daniel Rey, Pundit Arena