It wasn’t as convincing as they would have liked, but England are off to a winning start at the Rugby World Cup after beating Fiji 35-11 on Friday night.
Four tries were enough in the end for the tournament hosts, but Fiji were full of fight throughout the match and for a while would have backed themselves to cause an upset.
England were quick out of the blocks, and after a George Ford penalty had given them the lead they were in for their first try on 12 minutes when a rolling maul was stopped illegally by Fiji. The result was a penalty try, and Fijian scrumhalf Nikola Matawalu was yellow carded as a result of the infringement.
Fullback Mike Brown then scored his side’s second try in the 21st minute, and it appeared that Fiji were dead and buried at 15-0 down.
But they fought back.
Matawalu thought he had scored only for replays to show that he had dropped the ball over the line, but soon after that monster wing Nemani Nadolo caught a cross kick and scored to put his side on the board.
A penalty for either side followed, and the 18-8 scoreline would remain unchanged for a large period either side of half time.
Nadolo missed two penalties that could have put serious pressure on England, but then Ben Volavola narrowed the gap with a penalty to make it 18-11 with 15 minutes to play.
Substitute flyhalf Owen Farrell restored England’s 10 point lead with a penalty, and Twickenham began to rest a little easier.
When Brown dived in for his second try eight minutes from time, the game was over as a contest, but by that stage England had been severely tested already.
Substitute Billy Vunipola scored with the final play of the game to secure his side a bonus point.
Tries: Penalty try, Mike Brown (2), Billy Vunipola
Penalties: George Ford (2), Owen Farrell
Conversion: Ford, Farrell (2)
Try: Nemani Nadolo
Penalties: Nadolo, Ben Volavola