Search icon


18th Sep 2015

Five things we learned from England’s 35-11 win over Fiji

Kevin Beirne

England overcame Fiji in a hard-fought 35-11 victory in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup.

The hosts will be happy to walk away with a potentially crucial bonus point after game which was closer than the scoreline suggests.

Here are the five things we learned from the game.

1. Kicking game will be key

England have shown their hand over their last two games as they will be looking to utilise a kicking game in the tournament ahead. George Ford’s superior ability in this regard appears to have won him a starting berth.

After scoring a try against Ireland with a crossfield, Ford began the game by sending high balls to his wingers. But Anthony Watson needs to stay fit for this to work, as his ability to go after the ball in the air has given England an extra dimension to their game.


2. Scrum a worry going forward

It’s not something you’d expect from a game against Fiji, but England’s scrum was creaky against the Pacific Islanders. While the hosts’ front row were clearly unhappy with the referee’s handling of things, they failed to adjust until later in the game.

The rolling maul will be a positive for the forwards as it led to the opening penalty try, but the scrum still suffered. Mako Vunipola’s introduction came at a time when the Fijian front row were clearly tiring, but his dynamic play was sorely missed in the opening hour of the game.

3. Changes lie ahead

There were enough sub-par performances in this game to give Stuart Lancaster cause to take another look at his starting XV. Joe Launchbury put in an impressive shift off the bench and could start against Wales next weekend.

Ben Morgan looked rusty after his six month layoff and could be passed over for Billy Vunipola – whose hard running helped England secure the bonus point with the clock in the red.

4. Disorganised Fiji fail to deliver

The first game in the group of death was tough for both teams, but Fiji will be frustrated with the way in which they handed so many points to England. The second try came off the back of a poor Fijian lineout on their own five metre line.

Fiji’s lack of an accomplished place-kicker cost them points and showed the difference between the Pacific Islanders and the top-tier nations. Although they pushed England hard for 70 minutes, ultimately they tired at the end and gave away the bonus point.


5. Home pressures already show

England looked nervous as they dealt with the pressure of being the home team. As the tournament goes on, that will only grow and they need to prove they can handle the expectations of a nation.

They failed to score a single point for more than an entire half of play between Mike Brown’s 21st-minute try and Owen Farrell’s penalty in the 67th minute. They can’t allow that much time to pass between scores against a team like Australia.

England v Fiji - Group A: Rugby World Cup 2015