Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Lessons to be learned from England's World Cup win over Fiji

Published 19/09/2015

Ball-carrier Billy Vunipola provided evidence of England's bench strength and could shake up the starting XV
Ball-carrier Billy Vunipola provided evidence of England's bench strength and could shake up the starting XV

England opened their home World Cup with a 35-11 victory over Fiji that has given Stuart Lancaster and his coaching lieutenants plenty to ponder.

Here Press Association Sport's Duncan Bech examines five talking points from the match.


England view their bench as a key weapon in their quest for the Webb Ellis Cup and against tiring Fiji the reinforcements - spearheaded by number eight Billy Vunipola - generated fresh momentum that ultimately resulted in a bonus point. Wales and Australia will be better conditioned than the Islanders, but it remains an area of strength for England.


Since the start of the warm-up matches England's scrum has been transformed from an area of strength into an unpredictable mess. The image of an undistinguished Fiji front five winning against the head from five metres out and duly scoring a try will hurt forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who will also want to know why his team suffered at the breakdown in the second half.


Lancaster is considering changes and rightly so as elements of the performance against Fiji were poor. Any praise of the impact made by replacements must be put into the context of Fiji's obvious fatigue in the final 10 minutes, but Billy Vunipola was outstanding while Sam Burgess also ran hard and straight instead of laterally. The structure brought by substitute half-backs Owen Farrell and Richard Wigglesworth will also have been noted by Lancaster.


Leading only 18-11 heading into the final quarter, the World Cup hosts were challenged to demonstrate that they have the temperament for the big-match occasion and duly responded by conjuring two further tries to secure a bonus point that could prove critical when Pool A concludes. The late assault was fuelled by desire and conviction and served as further proof that Lancaster's England will fight to the very end.


Whipped up by the razzmatazz of an entertaining and polished opening ceremony, Twickenham greeted England's surge into a 15-0 lead with roars of approval. As often happens at the home of English rugby, the crowd fell silent as Lancaster's men lost their way, but just when they were needed most the 81,605 crowd found their voices once again to help inspire the late flurry.

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph