Dubai: England coach Eddie Jones was happy to look on the bright side after his men fought to a 35-3 victory over Tonga in their Rugby World Cup opener in
England notched up the bonus-point victory, with Manu Tuilagi scoring two tries before the break and Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie also going over. Also, Jones clearly told his men not to take any risks to avoid injuries to key players.
“We had to toil hard today and I was particularly pleased at the end of the game when we were under the pump a bit, we defended really well,” said Jones.
“That’s two Tests now we haven’t conceded a try so we’re pretty happy with that. We’ll just build our game as we go along.
“We’d like to be sharper with the ball and that will come. But I was really pleased with the efforts of my players. They worked hard and what a great effort by Tonga. They fought really hard.
“We lacked a bit of cohesion for some reason today. Maybe that’s the dislocated training we’ve had over the last couple of weeks.
“As coaches we need to look at that but I was so pleased with the players.”
Four years ago, England suffered a humiliating pool-stage exit from the World Cup on home turf. They would have fancied their chances against of racking up a big score against the Pacific Islanders, who were thrashed 92-7 by the All Blacks earlier this month.
But the Tongans clearly had other ideas in the Sapporo Dome and England struggled to break them down before centre Tuilagi came to their rescue to help them to a 18-3 lead going up the tunnel at the break.
The second half followed a similar pattern as England were frustrated time and again by a staunch Tongan defence, handling errors and indiscipline.
They were forced to wait until the 56th minute for their third try as hooker George finally found a way through off the back of a driving maul.
Another basic error denied England their fourth try of the night when Henry Slade and Elliot Daly fluffed their lines with nothing and no one standing between them and the Tonga line. There were sighs of relief and a few more relaxed expressions when Cowan-Dickie claimed the bonus-point try after being sent clear by Jonathan Joseph.
England only have a few days to rest before their next challenge against the United States in Kobe on Thursday, with Tonga playing Argentina, who were narrowly defeated by France on Saturday.
Italy 47, Namibia 22
Ireland 27, Scotland 3
England 35, Tonga 3