England got their 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign underway with a 35-3 win over Tonga in Sapporo. England were far from perfect but did enough to win the game quite comfortably. Tonga, as expected, tested England’s physicality but despite some spirited play, they weren’t quite at the level of Eddie Jones’ men. Here’s how we rated the England players in the game.
1. Joe Marler - 7
Doesn’t really offer much by way of an attacking threat but did his job around the breakdown.
2. Jamie George - 9
Excellent at the lineout and deserved his try, which he picked up shortly before coming off, as the pack got the rolling maul going.
3. Kyle Sinckler - 9
Had a really good game. He’s simply one of the best props in the game right now.
4. Courtney Lawes
A really good performance by Lawes, who was fantastic in the lineout, in particular.
5. Maro Itoje - 8
Slightly quieter game than many expected but still caused disruption at line-outs and at the breakdown. There’s more to come from the big number five.
6. Tom Curry - 8
Carried the ball well, gaining plenty of yards.
7. Sam Underhill - 8
Powerful and dependable in the back row. Unlucky not to score the first try of the game, but was denied by some excellent Tongan defending to prevent him from grounding the ball.
8. Billy Vunipola - 9
Took the game by the scruff of the neck at times with his trademark brut power.
9. Ben Youngs - 8
Kept the ball coming out quick in the latter stages of the first half where England showed they were much the better team.
10. George Ford - 8
Strong defensive display and chipped in well with his ever-reliable boot too.
11. Jonny May
Set up the second try of the game with a good turn of pace and a simple pass to Tuilagi. Went off after 52 minutes with what looked like a hamstring issue which could be a bit of a worry.
12. Owen Farrell - 8
A very assured performance from the captain. He will be frustrated he missed a kick from a tough angle though.
13. Manu Tuilagi - 9 (MOTM)
Scored the first try of the game with a show of amazing power, just minutes after a great run almost set up a try for Underhill. Got his second try on the half-hour mark by finishing a wonderful move with a lovely burst of pace. Refused to be pushed around by Tonga’s big guys.
14. Anthony Watson - 8
Recovered well after taking a big hit. Did well when the ball was in the air and looked outrageously good in the closing minutes as Tonga’s legs tired.
15. Elliot Daly - 7
Played a wonderful quick pass to Jonny May in the build-up to the second try. Moved out to the left-wing when May went off. missed a chance for a late try by being too far up with the ball carrier.
Replacement: Henry Slade - 7
Came on as a full-back and had one lovely run that nearly got a try. Looked like he tweaked his knee but he was able to continue. It’s remarkable that England are able to bring a player with such quality off the bench.
Replacement: Ellis Genge - 6
Not the only one, but guilty of handling errors.
Replacement: George Kruis - 7
Did well in replacing Lawes, a safe pair of hands in the lineout.
Replacement: Willi Heinz -7
Followed the example of Youngs and recycled the ball quickly.
Replacement: Lewis Ludlam -6
Fairly innocuous after replacing Underhill.
Replacement: Luke Cowan-Dickie - 8
Showed that all players are athletes nowadays as he ran in England’s fourth try.
Replacement: Dan Cole - 7
Jumped in for Sinckler and refused to allow Tonga’s pack to counter.
Replacement: Jonathan Joseph - 7
Did really well to set up Luke Cowan-Dickie for his late try. Might have come on earlier but England were worried about Slade’s fitness.