Substitutes take England over line

England's Mike Brown (in red) scores his second try against Fiji. England are in a so-called group of death that includes world top-10 sides Wales and Australia.
England's Mike Brown (in red) scores his second try against Fiji. England are in a so-called group of death that includes world top-10 sides Wales and Australia.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Two-try hero Mike Brown may be certain of his place in England's next World Cup match but coach Stuart Lancaster could do with a few changes for the clash with Wales.

Lancaster said several replacements had made a strong case to start the next Pool A match after impressing in a 35-11 win over Fiji to start the tournament.

Brown was the hero with a try in each half. But supersub Billy Vunipola, who scored the fourth try to snare a key bonus point, typified the importance of England's bench.

"We always select one game at a time and the bench really put their hands up and that's what you want them to do," said Lancaster.

It was only deep in the final quarter that the Twickenham crowd of over 80,000 saw England pull away from the Pacific islanders.

For large parts of the match, England were dominated up front.

The arrivals of Vunipola, his brother Mako, Owen Farrell and hard-charging rugby league convert Sam Burgess helped revitalise the team.

When Vunipola came on midway in the second half, England had gone more than 30 minutes without scoring. Fiji had closed to within seven points at 18-11.

In his brief time on the field, the England attack took a more direct route through the Fijians and produced a further 17 points in the final 12 minutes. His reward is a good chance of lining up against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday, regaining the starting No. 8 slot from Ben Morgan.

"Billy, Mako and Sam came on and did well for us, provided quicker ball and that proved the difference in the end," said Lancaster .

With the potential for Australia, Wales and England to beat each other in a tough Pool A, a bonus point - for four tries or more - could prove key in deciding progress to the quarter-finals.

Lancaster also insisted Pacific Nations Cup champions Fiji, who knocked Wales out of the 2007 World Cup, would be a handful for all the other sides in Pool A.

Fiji coach John McKee suggested England should have been unhappy with their performance and would need to improve to see off Wales and two-time champions Australia.

"We are a bit disappointed in the dressing room - we came here with high ambitions and felt we had England under pressure at times but critical turnovers and penalties allowed England to come back into the game and stopped us building any momentum," he said. "This pool was not decided tonight, that's for sure."



Samoa v USA: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 6.45pm

Wales v Uruguay: 9.15pm

New Zealand v Argentina: 11.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 20, 2015, with the headline 'Substitutes take England over line'. Print Edition | Subscribe