England start Autumn Tests with Victory over Tonga

England ran out comfortable winners in their first Test match of the Autumn series against Tonga

brewbooks from near Seattle, USA; cropped by Blackcat, CC BY-SA 2.0 via wikimedia commons

For the first time in a long time, England ran out into a packed out Twickenham. Over 81,000 were at the home of English rugby for England’s first game of their Autumn Nations Series campaign.

Their opponents, Tonga, were not the biggest test for the home side, but Eddie Jones’ side still needed to put in a good performance to beat them. the Pacific Islanders began their Autumn Nations Series last week against Scotland at Murrayfield. With only four training sessions the week, they couldn’t have been expected to do much against a strong Scottish side, and that showed. A resounding 60-14 win for Scotland.

It didn’t get any easier for them either, travelling south to play the World Cup Finalists of 2019. Owen Farrell dropped out of the England team on Friday due to getting a positive Covid test and therefore Northampton Saints’ George Furbank slotted into the fly-half position with Marcus Smith waiting for his chance on the bench.

It didn’t take long for the scoring to begin as after 3 minutes; England were over the line. From five metres out, Adam Radwan received a pass from Ben Youngs on the right wing, bumped off one defender and powered over. Slade couldn’t add the extras, but England had an early lead.

The early pressure continued, and ten minutes later England were over again in the same corner. From a lineout five metres out, a maul was formed, and the English forwards powered over the line with Jamie George scoring the try. 10-0 after 13 minutes on the clock. Tonga scored the next points of the match through scrum half Sonatane Takulua, who converted a penalty making the score 10-3.

The English try scoring continued though and with 12 minutes left to play in the half, and they had their third. From close to the line again, the ball was spread left through the hands and found Jonny May on the left wing who cantered over the line unopposed. This time the conversion was added taking the score to 17-3.

The English dominance continued and four minutes later, they had their fourth. From just outside the 22, Courtney Lawes passed inside to the rampaging Ellis Genge, he was tackled 10 metres out, but was able to offload to Maro Itoje who scored, 24-3.

The try scoring wasn’t over in the first half quite yet, as just before the break the home side scored a fifth. From the back of a maul on the 22, Jamie George broke away down the short side and passed to Ben Youngs who showed good pace to score on his 110th cap.

Half-Time score – England 29 Tonga 3

The second half started similarly to the end of the first, with a Ben Youngs try. From inside his own half, he ripped the ball from Tongan number 8 Sione Vailanu at the back of the scrum and ran clear to score his second of the game, 34-3.

The next try for England came just before the hour mark with Youngs involved again. The England scrum half received the ball off a lineout and played an inside ball to Jonny May. He was tackled just short of the line but was able to stretch and get the ball down, 41-3.

Tonga didn’t help themselves as with ten minutes to play they had a man sent off. Replacement back Viliami Fine deliberately hit his shoulder into Marcus Smith off the ball. Now a man up and already winning 41-3, England scored four more tries in the last 10, three from replacements.

Firstly, Jamie George scored his second of the game from a rolling maul. Next, Marcus Smith got in on the act. Henry Slade broke through the defensive line inside his own 22 and made it inside Tonga’s half before passing Inside to the Harlequins fly half to score and bring up the half century of points. Jamie Blamire then scored with 2 minutes to play as this time Smith broke through the defence inside Tonga’s half and gave a simple pass outside to Blamire to score England’s tenth of the day.

The final try of the game came from scrum half debutant Alex Mitchell. After Radwan burst down the right wing, he passed inside, it hit a Tonga player, Mitchell then kicked the ball forward over the line and he placed it down to score on his debut.

An emphatic win for Eddie Jones’s men who will face tougher tests in the weeks to come against Australia and then South Africa.

Full Time – England 69 Tonga 3