EDDIE JONES’ England got back to winning ways with a seven try win over Japan but their real test comes in the next two weeks.
Freddie Steward put in another masterful performance from full-back, scoring England’s opener and dominating the air in attack and defence.
Freddie Steward starred for England as he was the man of the matchCredit: Getty
England’s Marcus Smith was amongst the scorers against Japan.Credit: Reuters
And another Leicester tyro Jack van Poortvliet, at scrum-half, had a hand in two tries, showed his pace and showed why he must be England’s starting 9 ahead of Ben Youngs.
A third Tiger, centre Guy Porter, scored twice on his first proper game since September and Marcus Smith bagged a couple.
Up front Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler had the Japanese front row on toast and out back Jonny May returned to Test level with a lively display – and a yellow card.
England should be putting Japan, ranked tenth in the world, away in their sleep at Twickenham but still managed to have the odd nervy moment against Jamie Joseph’s men.
But they got the job done which after losing five out of nine Tests this year before this match was just what the doctor ordered.
And the All Blacks are in town next week and the week after the world champion Springboks arrive at HQ.
After the dross England served up last week in their 30-29 collapse to Argentina the only way surely was up.
Since that Puma pummelling the squad have banged on about making a fast start and they were out of the blocks quickly to lead 24-6 at the break.
Tries from Steward, Marcus Smith and Porter all looked good but there were plenty of mistakes chucked in there.
Smith got in on the act thanks to a Steward break from his own half which Jack van Poortvliet carried on before Joe Cokanasiga took forward. The wing, a late replacement for Jack Nowell was brought down but played the ball to Smith who snuck over in the corner.
Then on the stroke of half-time Porter was on the end of a Sam Simmonds pass after the No.8 had been in space by a long pass from Van Poortvliet.
But in between there was a knock-on from Tom Curry which cost Jonny Hill a score and a yellow card for Jonny May.
Wing May, playing his first Test for a year, did well to get back to cover a kick from Japan centre Dylan Riley but played the ball on the ground and got pinged.
Genge and Porter, with his second, took it up to 38-3 before Japan got one back through replacement Naoto Saito with England’s defence going AWOL.