Ben Youngs and Jonny May lead frantic England to defeat Tonga | Fall International
This was always meant to be a day when the number of points England racked up was a relatively minor detail. Given the endless talking points in the build-up – the uncertainty of Covid-19, a new opening captain and a half, long lines around the stadium, a delayed kick-off – it’s to all concerned that a crowd from Twickenham left. optimistic about what lies ahead this fall.
There may well be more mileage in the Owen Farrell saga, with the captain’s post-Covid availability apparently being discussed with Public Health England, but here is proof of a new English boost and useful youthful momentum . While unruly and burdensome Tonga were often their worst enemies, England will be quietly cheered on ahead of Australia’s impending visit next Saturday.
If two tries each for Ben Youngs, Jonny May and Jamie George stood out alongside a sleek display of man of the match, Henry Slade, there was no doubt about the feel-good vibe then as Marcus Smith jumped in for a 72nd-minute try that pointed to the bizarre logic of the Harlequin not starting the game after Farrell’s forced withdrawal.
Freddie Steward, every 6ft 5in from him, also looked like a stable pylon in the back while Adam Radwan has the feet to provide a dance hall style for any team. The champagne moment, however, unquestionably belonged to substitute captain Courtney Lawes, whose last cover tackle on Telusa Veainu at the end of the first half completely rewrote the traditional rules of how much ground a 6-foot-7, 32 years back-five forward should theoretically be able to cover.
Not that there was never the slightest doubt about the moment that would generate the greatest joy of the day. Smith’s arrival on the bench in place of the starting 10, George Furbank, didn’t totally transform the course of the game, but in the end he was completely running the show, putting on replacement hooker Jamie Blamire, sidelined for a late scoring England, who scored 11 tries, including a late first effort from Alex Mitchell, finished with real prowess.
It won’t do much to quell the argument over who should wear England’s No.10 shirt in the future. Surely this was an obvious opportunity to start with Smith, rather than asking him to deliver a late appearance? Or maybe not. Head coach Eddie Jones has never been one to bow like a palm tree even in the face of public opinion in a rush.
Overall, however, it was a positive start to England’s fall, despite the red card in the 68th minute for Smith’s calculated elbow to the head which led to the expulsion of substitute Viliami Fine.
Slade looked revitalized alongside Manu Tuilagi and at first glance, Martin Gleeson’s arrival as England’s new attacking coach clearly shows promise. There is much more evidence that the England full-backs are showing real aggressive intent with their run and transport and more clarity on what they are looking to do.
The result was five first-half tries, the first for Radwan arriving in three minutes. Reruns suggested that an obstruction out of the ball from Furbank played a role, but the Newcastle winger is the kind of player who could make his way through a crowded phone booth.
The roar Jamie George gave after completing a 13th-minute maul try was further proof of the Saracens’ renewed hunger, which was collectively reflected in England’s performance even before May led the defense a happy 29th minute dance on the left and Slade, after a few near misses earlier, managed the conversion
The visitors’ day took a new turn for the worse when their left winger, Solomone Kata, was sent to sin-bin for awkwardly knocking May out in the air.
In his absence, England made use of a few other tries. A bull run from Ellis Genge provided the momentum from which backing Maro Itoje scored his team’s fourth and a rejuvenated Youngs widened a defensive gap for a fifth just before the break.
Youngs brazenly withdrew the ball from Sione Vailanu to run away for his second within 10 minutes of the restart and thereafter it was free carnage. May’s landmark first-half tribute to Chris Ashton – the May-Fly? – looked painful but his thirst for tries was further illustrated by a stretching effort on the hour mark, his 35th try in 67 appearances in England.
With the spreads widening in the defense, even isolator Farrell would have been suitably impressed with the sight of Smith letting off steam for his own score and giving England another offensive dimension. Even as Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu is recovering from injuries he sustained in a horrific attack on his home in Brisbane in August, even the heavy punishment the visitors endured must be seen as strictly relative. .