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England use lucky break to beat Japan but bonus-point win marred by boos

  • Pool D: England 34-12 Japan
  • Joe Marler header leads to Courtney Lawes try

England are taking the concept of “winning ugly” to a whole new level at this World Cup. If there are no marks for artistic impression at major tournaments, the majority of this game could only be described as “entertainment” by serious masochists and leather-boot manufacturers. Steve Borthwick’s side are now effectively into the last eight but the boos which rang around the stadium as the ball was repeatedly booted skywards summed up the widespread mood.

Yes, England will point to the scoreboard which now reads two wins from two games as vindication of their kick-obsessed tactics but anyone who hails the first 65 minutes of this game as a step forward for perceptions of English rugby is kidding themselves. It was somehow fitting that their pivotal second-half try was a comedy of errors, the ball ricocheting off Will Stuart’s arm and Joe Marler’s head before falling into the path of Courtney Lawes with Japan having stopped playing in anticipation of a knock-on being called.

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