Marcus Smith stars as England thrash Japan in Tokyo

rugby22 June 2024 08:30| © AFP
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Marcus Smith @ Getty Images

Marcus Smith gave an all-action first-half performance as England thrashed Japan 52-17 in Tokyo on Saturday ahead of two tests against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

Preferred at fly-half to Fin Smith, the Harlequins playmaker scored a try and set up Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Henry Slade for two more before the break against an inexperienced Japan side coached by former England boss Eddie Jones.

Chandler Cunningham-South also scored on his first test start, while Alex Mitchell, Ben Earl, Harry Randall and Sam Underhill crossed the line in the second half.

Charlie Ewels was red-carded at the death for the visitors.

England will face the All Blacks in Dunedin on 6 July and Auckland on 13 July.

England's number 10 shirt is up for grabs on the tour, with Owen Farrell ineligible after deciding to continue his club career in France and George Ford injured.

After England had started slowly, Smith staked his claim in impressive fashion, gliding through the Japan defence after a line-out midway through the first half for a stylish try.

The 25-year-old then turned provider, picking out Feyi-Waboso for a try with a long pass before kicking into space to set up Slade after the halftime hooter.

Smith was quieter after the interval and blotted his copybook with a yellow card for a badly timed tackle.

It was a chastening start to Jones's second stint in charge of Japan, after handing starts to four debutants including university student Yoshitaka Yazaki at full-back.

The hosts salvaged a measure of pride with late tries from winger Koga Nezuka and Takuya Yamasawa.

Japan were forced into one late change before kick-off, with centre Samisoni Tui replacing Dylan Riley.

Seungsin Lee's penalty gave them the lead with less than two minutes on the clock and the home side kept England back with their fast and aggressive attacking play early on.

But the visitors made their presence felt when Cunningham-South powered through a pile of bodies for the first try in the 14th minute.

Smith added a second before finding Feyi-Waboso for another as England took control of the game.

Japan were facing an uphill battle and their cause was not helped when Tiennan Costley had a try ruled out for a knock-on in the build-up.

Slade finished the half by scoring England's fourth try and Mitchell bagged their fifth just minutes after the restart, dummying the Japan defence to dart home.

Earl also took advantage of more gaps in the Japan back line to dash over in the 49th minute, before substitute Randall did the same 10 minutes later.

Late scores for Nezuka and Yamasawa gave the scoreline a more respectable look for Japan, before Underhill grabbed another for England.