England 54 Fiji 12: Lancaster's young side show promise in perfect warm-up for Australia
16:29 GMT, 10 November 2012
17:01 GMT, 10 November 2012
Charlie Sharples scored his first two Test tries as England prepared for the more ferocious challenges to come with a record victory over Fiji.
The Gloucester wing, making his first Test start at Twickenham, was joined on the scoresheet by Ugo Monye, flanker Tom Johnson and centre Manu Tuilagi, who touched down twice late on against the tiring Fijians.
England's pack was so superior they struggled to retain control at times but their power did earn a penalty try while Fiji's captain and tight-head prop Deacon Manu was watching from the sin-bin.
Two-try hero: Manu Tuilagi went over twice at Twickenham
England had talked about imposing
themselves from the outset, about being ruthless and showing no mercy on
Fiji as they prepare to face Australia, South Africa and world
champions New Zealand.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster will be
satisfied with the seven-try performance, disappointed by the two tries
England conceded and aware they will need to be more accurate when the
Wallabies come to town next Saturday.
England must retain their fourth place
ranking through this most challenging autumn campaign to be among the
top seeds when the 2015 World Cup draw is made on December 3.
England paid the price for starting
slowly on their summer tour of South Africa and a more clinical team
would have punished them in the first 20 minutes today.
Fiji bossed the opening quarter, with
the powerful Gloucester number eight Akapusi Qera causing England all
sorts of problems around the fringes.
England fell foul of referee Glen
Jackson, the former Saracens fly-half, and had Danny Care sin-binned for
what was considered to be a dangerous tackle.
It looked harsh but no one could have
denied that Fiji deserved the lead they would have had if fly-half
Metuisela Talebula had not dropped two penalty kicks woefully short.
Make mine a double: Charlie Sharples scored two tries also
Versatlie: Man-of-the-match Alex Goode operated as a makeshift scrum-half with Danny Care sin-binned
In the end, England negotiated Care's
absence and then turned the tables on Fiji, with man of the match Alex
Goode particularly impressive in his role as the second play-maker.
After Flood had kicked England into
the lead, the men in white attacked in waves and Sharples marked his
first Twickenham start with his first Test try.
The Gloucester wing collected Goode's
offload and cut in-field, wriggling and driving his way through three
Fijian defenders before stretching for the line.
Johnson, debutant Tom Youngs and
captain Chris Robshaw all carried powerfully to keep England on the
front foot and Fiji's only answer to the pressure was to spoil.
Flood added a second penalty, taking
his Test points tally past the 250 mark, before Fiji captain Manu was
sin-binned but England were guilty of butchering chances.
England failed to control their own
five-metre scrum and when they spread the ball wide, the final pass from
Joe Marler to Brad Barritt went forward and straight into touch.
This was not the clinical execution coach Andy Farrell had demanded but England's pressure was too much for Fiji to bear.
When Robshaw was held up over the
line, the pack England remained disciplined and twice shoved Fiji
backwards to earn the penalty try.
Motoring nicely: Ugo Monye's try pushed the score onto 25-0
Fiji received a let-off when Sharples'
chip ahead just brushed the in-goal whitewash before he could touch it
down but England kept coming.
Care was scragged just short of the
line but Fiji conceded yet another penalty and Monye benefited from the
quick tap to score on his first England appearance in over two years.
Flood extended England's lead with a
penalty soon after the restart and ran at Fiji again, with Tuilagi and
then Care making a dart for the line.
England spread the ball wide and Dan
Cole crashed over the line in search of his second international try but
the television official ruled he had been held up.
Saracens prop Mako Vunipola was sent
on for his debut and England built from the attacking platform, working
an overlap down the left and Robshaw sent Johnson over for his first
England switched off and allowed Fiji
to score an eye-catching consolation, with Malaki Ravulo streaking away
from Tuilagi before Talebula kicked ahead to score.
Flood then scuffed the kick-off, to
cap an unceremonious couple of minutes but they were soon back in the
groove with Monye benefiting from Barritt's decoy run to cut an
Up and running: Charlie Sharples scored the opening try
High riser: Geoff Parling holds on as England win a lineout
Flood then exploited the space out
left, launching a long pass for Sharples, who stepped inside his men and
scored his second try of the match.
England began to ring the changes and
Ben Youngs came on to join his elder brother Tom, who produced an
impressive Test debut before making way for David Paice.
Ben Youngs and Mike Brown both dropped the ball over the line as England looked to turn the screw against a tiring Fiji team.
Qera somehow managed to haul down a
barnstorming run from Waldrom but Fiji were stretched again as quick
hands from Barritt allowed Tuilagi to dive over in the corner.
The Leicester centre then brushed
aside a weak tackle to touch down again but Fiji had the final word,
with Seko Kalou crashing over for their second try.
Tough to stop: Thomas Waldrom is tackled by Vereniki Goneva