England dispatch Fiji by record 58-15 at Twickenham
LONDON (AP) — England ended up taking care of Fiji on and off the field at Twickenham in a record 58-15 rugby win on Saturday.
The result and England's 12th successive win were in the bag within the first half hour, as the host side rocketed to 31-0 with five tries against a flimsy defense.
Then the England players showed how charitable they can be by gifting Fiji three consecutive tries bridging halftime. None of them were converted, and nobody believed that a comeback win was possible by Fiji.
England just needed to get serious again. Three minutes after Fiji's third and last score, England kicked to the right corner, drove the lineout, and captain Dylan Hartley scored. It was the perfect "bore-them-to-death" play demanded by coach Eddie Jones. Only the try was ruled out by obstruction.
England reset. Flyhalf George Ford, the star of England's show with his deft short and long passes, sent winger Semesa Rokoduguni spearing across field to the left corner. Back the ball came, and fullback Alex Goode scored England's sixth try from an overlap.
In quick succession, center Jonathan Joseph, Rokoduguni and lock Joe Launchbury all scored their second tries of the game, England matched its highest score against Fiji, and set a new mark by margin.
Before the match, England officials also showed the depth of their generosity. From expected gate takings of 10 million pounds on Saturday, the English agreed to pay the Fiji Rugby Union 75,000 pounds, half of what was requested, as a gesture of goodwill, because England hasn't visited Fiji since 1991.
Each England player was receiving 22,000 pounds for the match, compared to 400 pounds for each Fijian. The disparity was very much evident from the opening kickoff.
England made five changes after beating South Africa last weekend for the first time in 10 years, and still looked well oiled.
After only four minutes and seven phases, including a Mako Vunipola barge to the line, England set up a 4-on-3 and Ford put Joseph in a gap to score near the left corner flag.
Chris Robshaw then stole Fiji ball in a tackle to launch a counterattack, and Ford's looping double miss-out pass put left winger Elliot Daly in untouched.
Rokoduguni, making his first appearance in two years, then took the attack from England's 22 to Fiji's, and eventually the ball came back to him. He was too fast for Fiji captain Akapusi Qera and shouldered off opposite Nemani Nadolo.
Flanker Teimana Harrison and Launchbury were driven over from lineouts, and Farrell's conversions took him past 500 points, second only to Jonny Wilkinson on England's all-time points list.
But England relaxed, and Fiji took the cue to score tries by Nadolo, who paid back Rokoduguni by bumping him off, lock Leone Nakarawa, and fullback Metuisela Talebula.
Then England had enough. Fiji wanted more, but England's charity only goes so far.