England seems to be embracing the idea of “winning ugly” at this Rugby World Cup, taking it to a new level. While there may not be points for artistic flair in major tournaments. Their recent style of play has left many unimpressed. Steve Borthwick’s team is on track for the quarter-finals. But the frustration of fans was evident with boos as the ball was continuously kicked into the air during their recent match.

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England Rugby World Cup tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets
England Rugby World Cup tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets

England may argue that their strategy of constant kicking is justified by their two wins in two games at the France Rugby World Cup. However, those who see the first 65 minutes of this match as a positive development for English rugby are likely deceiving themselves.

The crucial second-half try was a result of a series of errors, with the ball bouncing off players’ arms and heads before Courtney Lawes finally collected it, catching Japan off guard. This match was far from a display of exciting rugby, and the frustration of fans was evident. They voiced their discontent with the repetitive kicking tactics. While England secured a victory, their style of play left much to be desired.

It remains to be seen how their performance will be perceived in the broader context of the tournament. In the latter stages of the match, England showed some improvement in their play, with Freddie Steward’s try injecting a bit of excitement into the proceedings. England’s tenacity at the breakdown and solid scramble defence were commendable aspects of their performance.

Battle In Their Rugby World Cup Campaign

Additionally, their ability to kick into a higher gear during the last quarter of the game was a positive sign. However, these late flourishes couldn’t fully erase the memories of a lacklustre and kick-heavy game for many fans. In contrast to teams like Fiji, Portugal, and Uruguay, who have earned praise for their entertaining and adventurous style of play at this RWC 2023.

England’s performance lacked the flair and excitement that typically captivates fans. However, England did manage to secure a try bonus point with their late surge. Lewis Ludlam contributed to this effort with a first-half try, and Joe Marchant added a try at the end of the match to round off the scoring. George Ford played a significant role in England’s performance, contributing 14 points through four conversions and two penalties.

However, with a total of 79 kicks out of hand during the match. It was far from the most expansive display of Test rugby ever witnessed. Japan faced an uphill battle in their Rugby World Cup campaign. Especially after witnessing Fiji’s impressive performance against stronger opponents. Their recurring struggle to maintain possession of the ball in slippery conditions further added to their challenges.

England Rugby World Cup tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets
England Rugby World Cup tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets

While Japan still has a chance to qualify for the Quarter-Finals. Their prospects of defeating both Samoa and Argentina appear to be slim based on their recent performance. Japan’s best chance against England was to capitalize on any potential divisions within the English team. Despite internal issues within the Rugby Football Union. For more about France Rugby World Cup Tickets.

Ford expertly controlled the Territory

England managed to respond effectively to adversity in their previous game against Argentina. The breezy conditions on the Cote d’Azur could have posed an additional challenge for both teams. The conditions in the stadium were humid, warm, and still. Which could result in a slippery ball and sweaty fingers for the players.

Despite the challenging conditions, some restaurants in the old town took precautions by folding away their sun umbrellas. The Japanese full-back, Semisi Masirewa, faced difficulty in these conditions. He committed an error by knocking on an overhit kick from Elliot Daly in his in-goal area, putting his team under unnecessary pressure.

This mishap quickly resulted in three points for England, courtesy of Ford’s precise kicking skills. Which was not a promising sign for Japan. To add to Japan’s troubles, Masirewa was forced to leave the field with a leg injury after being slightly pushed by Ben Earl, marking one of the less memorable moments of the tournament.

Japan desperately needed to shift the momentum in their favour. When they finally managed to do so. They put together some impressive attacking moves that could have yielded more than just a penalty. Which Rikiya Matsuda successfully converted. England, however, showed their determination in defence, continuously thwarting Japan’s efforts to break through.

England Rugby World Cup tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets
England Rugby World Cup tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets

The game was characterized by a series of scrums and lineouts, with both teams battling for dominance in the set pieces. As the match continued, England’s kicking game came to the forefront, with Ford expertly controlling the territory. To Read more about England Coach Steve Borthwick Questions World Rugby’s Approach to High Hits.

Persistent Efforts

Japan struggled to maintain possession and were frequently pinned deep in their half. The tension in the stadium was palpable as fans eagerly awaited a breakthrough moment. Japan’s tactical awareness and execution were evident in their attempts to disrupt England’s game plan. Rikiya Matsuda created moments of concern for the English team.

He successfully charged down one of George Ford’s clearance attempts, showcasing Japan’s preparation and understanding of their opponents. While England stuck to their prescribed game plan, Japan’s creative use of chip kicks and tactical variations kept the English defence on its toes. Matsuda’s accurate kicking helped Japan take a 6-3 lead with two successful penalties.

However, England found a lifeline when a Japan handling error near their try line allowed Ollie Chessum to recover the ball. This turnover provided the opportunity for Lewis Ludlam to power his way over the try line, levelling the score at 8-8 with 24 minutes on the clock. It was a pivotal moment in the match, demonstrating England’s ability to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes. For more about Rugby World Cup Quarter Final 4

The first half of the match was generally unattractive for neutral observers. Effective and strategic kicking is an essential aspect of rugby. But England’s excessive reliance on kicking without considering alternative options highlighted their limited attacking approach. Japan’s persistent efforts allowed them to narrow the gap to 13-12 after 54 minutes through Rikiya Matsuda’s fourth successful penalty.

England Rugby World Cup tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets
England Rugby World Cup tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets
The Tournament Progresses

At this point, there was a fleeting possibility that England’s conservative tactics could cost them. Fortunately for England, a fortuitous play involving Will Stuart and Joe Marler led to a crucial score, providing some breathing room. Following this breakthrough, England seemed more willing to play with greater freedom.

Following Freddie Steward’s try in the 66th minute, Marcus Smith was introduced to inject his typical flair, and Joe Marchant. One of England’s standout performers in recent games, crossed the try line in the dying moments to provide a more flattering scoreline. England’s next challenge will be against Chile in Lille this Saturday.

Offering an opportunity to give some players a rest ahead of a bye week before their final pool match against Samoa. However, as the tournament progresses in France. They will inevitably face stronger opponents who will pose more challenging questions than their first two pool opponents have presented so far.

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