England 52-13 Japan: Autumn Nations Series – as it happened

Last modified: 06: 02 PM GMT+0

England ran in seven tries, with two for Marcus Smith and two for Guy Porter, as they overpowered Japan at Twickenham

That’s all from me. Congratulations to England on a much-needed win and thanks for reading. See you next time.

Is Jones close to knowing who will be in World Cup squad? “We came back from Australia with 36 players who played a good series. We lost 20 before we started. You’ve just got to ride with the punches. We’ve got ideas of what we’d like, of who our best players are. You look at the locks we’re missing: Isiekwe, Ewels, Chessum, Lawes. So Ribbans and Coles are, what does that make them, are sixth and seventh choice locks? So we’re building depth so that whatever happens at the World Cup … Look at the final of the women’s today, you got a red card in the 20th minute. You’ve just got to adapt to the game now.”

Will England play their best XV and 23 come the Six Nations? Will the ‘tinkering be done’ then, asks Durden-Smith?

“No, no. Definitely not, mate. But we’ll have the idea [of the best team] in our head. You never show all your cards, mate.”


A smiling Eddie Jones speaks to Amazon Prime: “We played more like ourselves … in the first game, we probably just had too much of a long-term view of where we wanted to go, and didn’t concentrate on the specific game, which was my fault. I thought the boys today were really focused, played some good rugby, and probably left 20 points out there, against a team that got within seven points of the All Blacks.

Is not being scared of mistakes the key to playing with freedom? “That’s part of it. It’s more about playing to our strengths. If a bloke jumped off a spaceship he’s coming from Mars, and we’re playing in an orange jersey, you’d want him to be able to say: “That’s England playing.” Last week we were sort of in-between playing like England and trying to adopt a newer style. Which we need to do, but sometimes that gets you confused. Today it looked like England. We even had white shirts on today which probably makes a difference.

“We wanted to play up the middle of the field. They want to play out there [on the wings] … we wanted to really take it to them and I thought we did that pretty well. The set piece was better today. Still not where we need to be, but better.”

What did he think of Smith-Farrell at 10 and 12, asks Matt Giteau. “They’re growing. It takes a little bit of time. They’ve got both the things they like doing. When you’re playing together you’ve got to find out what you do together well. We’ll see that get better every game they play, mate. We’re going to stick with it. To get to the World Cup, playing in France, particularly early on, you’re going to need to score points on hard, fast tracks. So we need two guys who can run our attack. We can’t just have one and two ball runners.”

So Jones is determined to stick with Smith and Farrell and 10 and 12? “Contradiction is a big part of coaching. We are like politicians. But that’s the way we want to go, but then you have injuries and loss of form, but definitely we think Marcus and Owen, going forward, are best for England.”


Jamie Joseph, the Japan coach, speaks: “I think we were outplayed today. They attacked our scrum and put us under a lot of pressure … they deserved the win. We conceded a lot of penalties … just dealing with the pressure and the physicality of the English pack today was a wee bit tough for us.

“It was hard to get momentum against a very good defence. We were always on the back foot and living off scraps a little bit. You’ve got to take your hat off to the English team in terms of their defence, and they turned us around, put the ball in behind and scored some really good tries.

“I still thought it was a really good game for us in terms of experience … You’re right, we haven’t had a lot of game time, but using that as an excuse, that’s not really what we’re about … at the start, we got stopped getting momentum and getting our game going through our forward pack. And that’s due to a really good English forward pack. And after that it all means nothing, really.

“The real measurement of where England are will be after next week and the week after, because they’ve got a couple of big ones coming.”


I think Eddie may even be contractually obliged to be here,” says Mark Durden-Smith, as the Amazon panel continue to fill time waiting for him to appear.

The selection of Van Poortvliet at scrum-half was definitely a success but that is hardly a surprise. After a poor game against Argentina last week Farrell was excellent at No 12, with ball in hand, and flawless off the kicking tee. Smith, on the other hand, made some bad decisions and often didn’t look in synch with his teammates, but took his two tries very well. The scrum was absolutely rock solid and the lineout was excellent too.


Dylan Hartley’s assessment of Jonny May’s display: “Jonny’s like a good dog. He’s a labrador, mate. He’ll chase, and he’ll chase, and he’ll chase.”

“I think that’s a compliment,” remarks the presenter Mark Durden-Smith.


The England coach Eddie Jones should be out shortly and speaking to Amazon Prime.

It looks like Owen Farrell is now carrying a Samurai sword which he has just been presented with by the Japanese visitors. The England captain pauses for some photos with fans.


Owen Farrell speaks to Amazon Prime: “The way we started, we ‘let go’ a little bit more than we did last week. We stayed pretty constant throughout the game. It’s not like we didn’t make mistakes this week, we just probably reacted that little bit better and showed ourselves what we’re capable of that bit more.”

Where does that come from, ‘letting go’, asks Sonja McLaughlan? “Probably not worrying as much, probably not thinking too much. When you come together for the first time … you probably overthink things, and when it doesn’t go your way in the game, you probably overthink things even more.

“We wanted to make sure we didn’t do that … we wanted to show the best of ourselves … it’s not worrying about anything in particular … it’s just that everybody comes off the back of playing for their clubs … We were more like ourselves today.

How is the Farrell-Smith combination going? He scoffs slightly at the question. “Everybody keeps asking about it. It feels good. But it’s not about that combination … It’s about the whole team, as I said during the week … it’s about making the team tick. And I thought Marcus did a great job of that today.”

How was the mindset different this week? “Attitude. As I said before, probably not thinking as much. There’s not a whole lot of rugby you can do off a six-day turnaround … We allowed ourselves to get more of the best of ourselves.”

“We’ve got another seven days together which is important. That felt more like a team that was going places. We’ll see how far we can go in them seven days.”


The player of the match, Freddie Steward, speaks to Amazon Prime: “I think it was a frustrating loss last weekend against Argentina. All week, we were saying we wanted to bounce back and put in a good performance, and I think we did that today.

“We worked hard in the week, we reviewed the game against Argentina, I think we addressed those problems and we found solutions, and today it clicked.

“The kick-chase is a massive part of Test match rugby. It was a big focus for us. We wanted to get into a powerful game, and try and overpower them.

“I just love being here at Twickenham, especially with these boys. Sladey’s 50th today, he was awesome, it’s a pleasure to be out there with him and in front of these fans.”

Does he drink his player of the match champagne, inquires Sonja McLaughlan? “No. Never. I’ll give it to Dad.”

Full-time! England 52-13 Japan

It’s all over. A very impressive effort by England. They needed to win, but also to win well, and they delivered. There is a hug and a few words from Eddie Jones for Ellis Genge after the final whistle. Marcus Smith and Michael Leitch share a joke.


79 min: Youngs tries to offer up a try for Slade on the occasion of his 50th cap but the Exeter man loses the ball forward. Still, he has made his mark on this game, showing how destructive he can be in attack especially when afforded a bit of space.

78 min: Topsy Ojo on Amazon Prime names the England full-back Freddie Steward as the player of the match, and that feels like a good call. Van Poortvliet was also good, Genge outstanding.


77 min: Slade is sent scorching through a gap thanks to a lovely pass offered up by Farrell. He has May outside on the left wing and tries a cute little kick with the outside of his boot but it’s slightly overhit and May can’t catch up with it.


75 min: Try! England 52-13 Japan

The 50 is up. Smith lofts a kick out wide that is snaffled by Steward. The full-back kicks ahead, a horrible bounce for Matsushima sends him scurrying backwards. But Slade hacks the ball towards the posts and looks likely to score, but Smith is better positioned to grab the ball and dive over.

Michael Leitch can’t catch Marcus Smith.
Michael Leitch can’t catch Marcus Smith. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images


73 min: Japan storm down their right wing with numbers, and a fine chopping tackle by Slade helps to stop their momentum.

Penalty try for England, yellow card for Japan! England 45-13 Japan

Siosaia Fifita is sent off for 10 minutes for a side entry at the rolling maul and it’s a seven-pointer for England to boot. There is no jeopardy on the scoreboard for England here but they are treating their fans to a thumping win.


69 min: England rumble a maul over the line. Looks like it’s going to be a penalty try and a yellow card …

67 min: The commentators point out that this is Henry Slade’s 50th cap. Meanwhile, a clever piece of play by Jonny May, catching Saito in possession. That sets the platform for another England attack.

65 min: Japan keep testing the England defence. They move to within a few metres and a grubber kick is sent through by Riley. Farrell wins the race for the ball and touches down in-goal.

63 min: Youngs for Van Poortvliet is the latest change for England. And now Cokanasiga goes off, for Slade, and Porter for Tuilagi. Good options off the bench, for sure.


60 min: A quarter of the match remaining at Twickenham. England will want to turn the screw and run up 50 points if they can. A Japan revival is looking unlikely at this stage … Hill goes off, Billy Vunipola comes on, so Itoje will slot in in the second row.

Samoa are into the Rugby League World Cup final. England are out.

Try! 58 min: England 38-11 Japan (Saito)

Dearns grabs a ball off the floor with Japan on the attack in the England 22. He runs into space towards the try-line and offloads to Saito who nips over. Good score – it looked like England stopped a bit, though, after a potential knock-on by Coles.


55 min: Ribbans off, Coles on for England. Jamie George and Mako Vunipola are also on with Genge and Cowan-Dickie going off.

For Japan, Inagaki, Tatafu, Nagare and Van den Heever are all off, with Millar, Labuschagne, Saito and Fifita on.


England v Samoa in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final has gone to extra time after finishing 26-26. Will Unwin has the details:


Try! 49 min: England 38-6 Japan (Porter)

Guy Porter grabs his second try.
Guy Porter grabs his second try. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

A towering one-handed offload in contact by Hill – and then a similar one by Ribbans – sets up space for Farrell to send a low kick through behind the Japan defence after Jonny May is tackled. Porter wins the foot race in the left corner and dives on the ball for his second try. More good stuff from England. And another excellent kick by Farrell.


Try! 47 min: England 31-6 Japan (Genge)

England spin the ball from right to left, then it’s popped inside first to Sinckler on the crash ball. Then it’s Genge – and he literally runs through at attempted tackle by Van Den Heever and scores. A good score which was both about moving the ball quickly and relying on the power of England’s beefy ball carriers. Farrell adds the extras.

45 min: Steward, again, is the man to make inroads for England, bursting into a bit of space down the left. Van Poortvliet, who is keeping England moving nicely, marshalls another attack. Smith tries a grubber kick which never looks the right option, with numbers outside him. He may have a try to his name but he’s had a distinctly poor game overall.


43 min: Lee misses the penalty, sending it right of the sticks by some distance. May is back on the field. England won the sin-bin period 7-0, points out Miles Harrison.

42 min: Jonny Hill is penalised for a high tackle and Japan have a penalty. Jonny May is still in the sin bin but will be back imminently.


Second half kick-off!

Yamasawa off for Japan at No 10, Lee on at half-time.

If you missed it, somehow: Robert Kitson’s report from this morning’s momentous Rugby World Cup final:

Half-time! England 24-6 Japan

Much better from England, who have attacked with pace and purpose. Japan’s execution has let them down at times, and they have been punished efficiently.

What do you think? You can email me here.

40 min: Try! England 24-6 Japan (Porter)

England seize on defensive hesitation by Japan after another sensational work by Steward. Curry helps to effect a turnover close to the Japan try-line. Van Poortvliet flicks as pass wide left to Simmonds, who nearly makes it to the try-line, but then offloads to Porter who has a simple finish. Another good kick by Farrell and the scoreboard is looking decent for Jones’s men now.

Guy Porter goes over the line.
Guy Porter goes over the line. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images


38 min: Yamasawa misses a penalty kick for touch – Steward does well to keep the ball in as he loiters by the touchline. A let-off for England when they were on the back foot.

35 min: Penalty! England 17-6 Japan (Yamasawa)

England had been firmly in control, but one break by Japan has led to another three-pointer and a yellow card. Could this be a nervy afternoon for England fans, after all?

33 min: Yellow card for England! (May)

The Gloucester wing is in the sin bin. Leitch goes roaring through a gap and into tonnes of space. He offloads to Riley, the outside centre, who kicks behind Jonny May and wins the foot race … May tackles him and then collapses over the ball trying to compete for it, and he is promptly shown a yellow card.


31 min: Penalty! England 17-3 Japan (Yamasawa)

An easy kick for the Japan fly-half and the Brave Blossoms are off the mark.


28 min: Japan’s scrum is taking a battering but they build a good attack into the England half thanks in part to a nice pop pass by Riley in midfield. Leitch sprints down the left wing but is forced into touch by the England defenders. Japan keeping coming, though, and get to within a couple of metres of the England try-line. England are penalised for offside and Japan choose to take the penalty, sensibly opting to get themselves on the board.


The try is created by a brilliant counterattacking run by Steward from full-back. He runs into midfield, having beaten a couple of defenders, and offloads to Van Poortvliet who has space to run into on the right wing. The scrum-half gives it to Cokanasiga, who looks to be in for a try, but he is hauled down close to the line. The tackled Cokanasiga waits for Smith, passes off the floor, and the fly-half darts in at the corner. Good score and positive stuff from England again.


Try! 23 min: England 17-0 Japan (Smith)

After a couple of early errors, Smith has a try in the corner!

Marcus Smith goes over for the second try for England.
Marcus Smith goes over for the second try for England. Photograph: Alex Davidson/RFU/Getty Images


22 min: Itoje nabs the lineout following that scrum penalty and England attack down the right wing. Smith has a telegraphed pass intercepted and there is a glimpse of a chance for Japan to attack but England snuff out the danger. Smith had already had one kick charged down, which he got away with because Japan had strayed offside.

19 min: There is a break in play and a lull before another scrum put-in for England. The England scrum is rock solid again and the latest engagement results in another penalty for the hosts.

16 min: Kyle Sinckler needs a change of shorts, for some reason, and at the next scrum England win another penalty. Again it’s Gu who goes to ground under pressure from Sinckler. The second row Jonny Hill nips over try-line after Van Poortvliet messes up a pass from the base of a ruck. Tom Curry knocks that pass on, so Hill’s subsequent dart looking for a try is in vain.

Michael Leitch, the Japan captain, has a serious look on his face as he tries to contain this onslaught from England.


15 min: Good early signs for England. Japan have come to play, and are highly unlikely to be pushovers, but on this evidence it’s going to be a far more coherent performance by Jones’s men compared to last week.


11 min: Try! England 10-0 Japan (Steward)

Excellent try by England after they buy some field position with that scrum penalty. The Japan defence rushes up and a smart pass from Smith finds the full-back, Steward, on a lovely arcing run outside the defensive cover. Jonny May is there on the wing, too, but Steward doesn’t need him and he has space to jog over. Cokanasiga ran a good line there too. Farrell nails an excellent conversion.

England's Freddie Steward scores the first try of the game.
England's Freddie Steward scores the first try of the game. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA


10 min: England win a penalty at the first scrum of the match. They celebrate after Gu is penalised, going up against Ellis Genge in the front row.

7 min: Both teams are looking to run the ball and play some good stuff – the conditions are perfect, dry and an unseasonably warm 17C in south west London. Japan work through some muscular phases and then win a penalty of their own which, like England, they kick for the corner, and they work into the hosts’ 22 for the first time. But England do well to turn it over and Smith clears downfield. Japan hack the ball back and Itoje knocks it on. Scrum to Japan near halfway.


5 min: Penalty! England 3-0 Japan

Farrell gets England on the board.

4 min: From the lineout, Dylan Riley does exceptionally well to charge down an attempted kick over the top to the corner by Marcus Smith. But Matsushima had drifted offside and it’s pulled back.

3 min: England work through some phases in Japan’s half and win an arguably generous penalty for Japan going off their feet. They kick for the corner, passing up a regulation shot at goal.


2 min: Japan begin the match with a nice passing move, probing down their right wing. Steward, then Farrell put boot to ball for England early on. Yamasawa, the Japan No 10, makes a good catch from Farrell’s up and under …

England's Jack Nowell (centre) is held up bu the Japanese line.
England's Jack Nowell (centre) is held up bu the Japanese line. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA


First half kick-off!

Owen Farrell gets us going.

The teams are heading out on the pitch. Kick-off is six minutes away. Now for a rendition of The Last Post and a moment of silence for Remembrance Day.


Ben Donaldson missed a late conversion for Australia which meant a one-point win for Italy. Some result.

Italy beat Australia for the first time! 🇮🇹

Just look at what it means! 🎉#AutumnNationsSeries #ITAvAUS pic.twitter.com/w7Qk5Yxnk7

— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) November 12, 2022


England’s Simon Middleton says he will forever be proud of his team following their agonising last-gasp defeat by New Zealand in a magnificent Rugby World Cup final. The Red Roses played more than 60 minutes with just 14 players and blew a crucial late attacking lineout opportunity but Middleton said his side had given everything and helped to elevate the women’s game to another level.

Eddie Jones speaks to Amazon Prime on this week’s preparations: “I think we’ve just been clearer in how we want to play. Last week maybe the message wasn’t quite right … today I’m sure we are going to be on the ball.

“It’s not about anger, it’s about playing to our potential … and playing as well as we can.

“We’ve got a squad here and it’s [selection] about who’s appropriate to start and who’s appropriate to finish.

“Jack Nowell’s got a slight fast bowler’s strain. He must have been playing too hard in the cricket in the hallway of the hotel.” [He is joking.]

“I don’t really know what pressure is. You choose the coach, and you choose to accept there’s a win and loss, and you’ve got to accept whatever happens after that.”


Italy have just beaten Australia, 28-27!

🇮🇹 🇦🇺 #ITAvAUS

ITA-AUS 28-27#Italrugby @autumnnations#insieme #rugbypassioneitaliana

— Italrugby (@Federugby) November 12, 2022

Team news

For England, Jack Van Poortvliet starts at No 9 after his brilliant opportunistic try soon after replacing Ben Youngs last week. Leicester’s Guy Porter is at No 13 in the absence of the rested Manu Tuilagi while Jonny May comes back in on the wing a few weeks after suffering a dislocated elbow playing for his club. Sam Simmonds slots in at No 8 with Billy Vunipola on the bench and David Ribbans wins his first cap in the second row.

Japan have the lightning-quick Kotaro Matsushima on the wing, the industrious Kazuki Himeno at No 7, and the equally hard-working and talented captain, Michael Leitch, at No 6.

England: Steward; Cokanasiga, Porter, Farrell (capt.), May; Smith, Van Poortvliet; Genge, Cowan-Dickie, Sinckler, Ribbans, Hill, Itoje, Curry, Simmonds. Replacements: George, M Vunipola, Heyes, Coles, B Vunipola, Youngs, Slade, Tuilagi.

Japan: Yamanaka; Matsushima, Riley, Nakamura, Van den Heever; Yamasawa, Nagare; Inagaki, Sakate (capt.), Gu, Dearns, Cornelsen, Leith, Himeno, Tatafu. Replacements: Norikoshi, Millar, Kizu, Van der Walt, Labuschagne, Saito, Lee, Fifita.


Jamie Joseph, the Japan coach, has a chat with Sonja McLaughlan on Amazon Prime: “It’s a big Test match, coming to Twickenham … we sort of lost our momentum a little bit after [the World Cup in] 2019 [because of the pandemic] … but this is our 10th game this year, so it’s starting to come right, we are starting to get our groove on.

“The team’s started to get a bit of momentum, we’ve got some big games ahead of us, one today and the French next week, as well.”

The full lineups are coming up shortly, but the breaking news from Twickenham is that the Exeter wing Jack Nowell has been ruled out by an abdominal injury. Joe Cokanasiga comes into England’s starting team on the right wing as a result.


Can Japan mix it with England for 80 minutes, the pundit Matt Giteau is asked on Amazon Prime: “Physically they can do it, they always pride themselves on being one of the fittest teams in world rugby. Tactically there’s a question mark.”


Can England free themselves up today, and achieve a convincing win against Japan, in contrast to last week’s disappointment? Gerard Meagher takes a look:

Sarah Rendell’s player ratings from this morning’s cup final:

There is a hill in Sapporo called Sankakuyama, or Triangle mountain, but over the road at Yamanote high school they call it Michael Leitch’s playground. When Leitch was a student at Yamanote he used to run up it every day after training. It takes most kids 30 minutes – it’s so steep they cover bits of it on their hands and feet. By the end of his time there, Leitch was covering it in 15 minutes. Eddie Jones, who first met Leitch when he was coaching him at Tokai University, was talking about it this week. England’s head coach is still in awe of Leitch’s work ethic. “He’s a great player,” Jones said, “and a great man”.

Kick-off at Twickenham is in under an hour. Why not read Robert Kitson’s report from a captivating Women’s Rugby World Cup final, which ultimately resulted in heartbreak for England.



England need to win. The performance in last weekend’s defeat by Argentina was unacceptable and Eddie Jone’s tactics and selections are increasingly under the microscope. There is a sense that things are in a muddle, with little time to get things straight before next year’s World Cup.

Jones is used to taking criticism and will naturally insist his plans will come together for France 2023. But if this autumn’s campaign is a ‘mini World Cup’, as Jones said, then in that imaginary world a second defeat would mean ‘elimination’ and plenty more speculation about the future of the man in charge.

Japan’s rugby team, of course, are the reason that Jones leads England now. His exceptional work with the Brave Blossoms, and their unforgettable win against South Africa in 2015, landed the Australian his current job. How England fans would love to see Jones’s players unleash just a bit of that dynamism and attacking verve at Twickenham today.

Team news and previews coming up.

Kick-off: 3.15pm GMT


Luke McLaughlin

The GuardianTramp

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