Rugby Union

How the replacements pushed England past the post against Fiji

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As the England vs Fiji game has been picked over endlessly in terms of the overall display, I thought it worthwhile to concentrate on the English players that may not have had as much coverage.

Following on from my thoughts about the importance of the replacements bench in this World Cup, it seems only right to take a look at those players who had only a limited amount of time to shine.

The first to appear: the quartet of the Vunipola brothers, Joe Launchbury and Richard Wigglesworth were the first to arrive on the 50-minute mark.

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It seems that the starting XV were given ten minutes to start to turn the screw before changes were introduced. With no further score, it seemed the management were keen to inject some new life into the game.

Firstly, the Vunipolas both added a much-needed impetus to the English pack against tiring Fijian forwards. It seems that both of them have benefitted from their intense summer training as they were looking very sharp.

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Billy, in particular, had one of his best appearances in an England jersey for my money. He went rampaging around the park with real venom and scored the final try which secured the bonus point for victory was certainly the highlight of the evening (even if it did take a while to be confirmed).

Mako too was industrious and a real threat in loose play and the combination of the brothers seems to add to the sum of their parts separately.

Launchbury seemed much more like his ‘old’ self, tackling tirelessly (as he should with half an hour to play) but his strong direct running added greatly to the English cause in the latter part of the game. 

Wigglesworth perhaps did less to advance his case than some of the other bench-sitters. He seemed to be suffering a little of the nervous energy that was rife that evening with passes going astray and some of his kicking from hand missing the mark, but he certainly did not take a backward step.

The rest of the front row contributions seemed to work fairly seamlessly but without being truly tested as the Fijians tired; Brookes showing good hands in the loose and Webber not letting his side down in the line-out.

The introduction of Farrell and Burgess also seemed to add to the party. Both obviously eager to make an impression and worked their way into the game with a more direct approach than their predecessors - their offloading game adding tempo from which Farrell fed Mike Brown for his second try of the evening. Burgess seemed to find the balance between risky offload and safe ball retention. 

Undoubtedly then each of the subs have put their hand up for starting selection against Wales and it would appear at latest glance that with an injury to Joseph, there will be need of change for the usually conservative Lancaster.

The rest of the bench will hope they pressed their case well enough to be added to the list of changes too, if not for the Wales match then the future challenges England will inevitably face

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Topics:
Rugby Union
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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