World U20s 2015: England cruise to victory over Japan
Jon Callard's youngsters kick off their title defence in style with nine tries in their opening Pool A match in Calvisano
England got their World Rugby U20 Championship title defence off to the best possible start with a commanding 59-7 win over Japan in Calvisano.
Jon Callard’s side were ruthless from the outset against their physically smaller and less experienced opponents as they stormed to the top of Pool A ahead of France – who had earlier defeated Wales 19-10 – with nine tries and seven conversions from Bath outside-half Rory Jennings.
We were clinical with the opportunities that presented themselves to us.
Three tries had been racked up inside eight minutes and there was plenty more to come as the Red Rose dominated the first half as they built an impressive 45-0 lead.
But they found the second half tougher as Callard emptied the bench and the Brave Blossom youngsters grew in confidence and showed plenty of heart to shore up their defence and cause a few problems in attack.
“I am pleased with that performance, we came out of the blocks and started really well,” Callard told England Rugby.
“We were clinical with the opportunities that presented themselves to us.
“Second half we emptied the bench and Japan found momentum. To their credit, they were very good and stretched us on the edge with their attacking play.
“We are through the first game and will be all the better for the experience of dealing with the heat and conditions out here.”
Playing their first match in the tournament since 2009, it was a rude awakening for Japan’s squad of mostly made up of students as they were cut open by Perkins inside the first minute.
Yorkshire Carnegie hooker Jack Walker went over in the corner before Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Stuart Townsend and Saracens full-back Aaron Morris crossed inside 13 minutes to secure the bonus point.
Morris bagged his second before the end of the first quarter, but a handling error from Japan as they began to get a foothold in the game saw Townsend race away unchallenged for his second and nothing but a rout looked on the cards.
Capping off a superb first half for the England back three, Wasps wing Tom Howe picked up the seventh try for a 45-0 lead at the break.
In the heat of Calvisano, Callard made six changes for the second half but it was business as usual for the Red Rose as replacement lock Sam Skinner scored the easiest of tries in the right corner just two minutes after the restart as England spread the ball through the hands.
But the back-to-back U20 junior world champions didn’t have it all their own way for the remainder of the contest as the much smaller and lighter Japanese side gave England problems at the set-piece.
A period of pressure for Japan in the England 22 saw Tevita Tatafu drive over the line, but referee Sylvetre ruled out the score for obstruction.
Buoyed by some success, Japan continued to attack and were rewarded with a penalty try for their efforts when Bath centre Max Clark deliberately knocked-on as he burst off the tryline, receiving a yellow card for his troubles.
Ryuji Noguchi converted to give Japan the maximum seven points and the Brave Blossom continued to create chances in the final quarter, while snuffing out England’s potent attack in the final 10 minutes until Newcastle Falcons lock Willy Witty went over in the last seconds for a try on his debut.
England take on Wales on Saturday before a potential top of the table clash against France next Wednesday.