USA suffers a heavy defeat at the hands of England
The 2003 champion simply outclassed its opponents in Kobe City scoring seven tries, with the Americans almost becoming the first team not to register a score at this year’s tournament until a late try from Bryce Campbell put the USA on the scoreboard.
To make matters worse, USA’s John Quill picked up the tournament’s first red card for a sickening tackle on Owen Farrell.
Defeat for the Eagles means its wait for a first Rugby World Cup win since 2011 continues whilst England has now won both of its games so far this tournament after beating Tonga 35-3 in its opener Sunday.
Despite boasting a population of 330 million, men’s rugby in the US is still on the rise and its opening match in Japan demonstrates just how far there is to go before it can compete on the biggest stage.
When asked what his side needed to improve on, USA coach Gary Gold didn’t hold back.
“Everything, every aspect of our game, starting with our defense,” he said after the game. “You can’t be missing nearly 40 tackles in a game and hope you’re going to be in the equation. It was a pretty awful performance by us.”
Result never in doubt
The match was one of the most one-sided of the tournament so far.
George Ford carved his way through the US defense to register England’s first try within seven minutes, becoming the fourth England captain to score a try at the Rugby World Cup.
Instead of capitulating after the early setback, the US defended ferociously but Eddie Jones’ side continued to knock on the door. Eventually, the door came flying off.
Billy Vunipola drove over from a line-out and Luke Cowan-Dickie once again capitalized on a set-piece before half-time offered the USA some respite from England’s relentless attack.
The second half was very much a mirror image of the first though, with England piling the pressure on USA’s tiring defense.
Joe Cokanasiga scored the seemingly inevitable bonus-point try after Jonathan Joseph made an impressive dart behind the USA defense.
Ruaridh McConnochie, Lewis Ludlam and Cokanasiga then went over before Campbell capitalized on a bizarre passage of play to register a score for the underdogs right at the death.
“I guess we were fortunate enough to get one on the scoreboard and I’m proud of the effort,” said USA captain Blaine Scully.
If questions have been raised over the quality of officiating so far at the tournament there was no chance Quill wouldn’t be red carded given the way he shoulder-charged Farrell’s head, with the Englishmen lucky not to have suffered more serious injury.
Despite the brutal collision, Farrell was up in seconds to confront Quill, sparking ugly scenes in an otherwise entertaining spectacle.
England coach Jones will be happy with England’s defense which has only conceded one try at this year’s tournament but sterner tests lie ahead in the shape of France and Argentina.
“Two games, 10 points and what a great occasion for rugby,” said Jones after the match, before praising the lively atmosphere in the humid Kobe.
“It’s terrific for rugby. We’ve now got another rugby city in the world. The fans have been fantastic, it was a great atmosphere tonight and we were lucky to be part of it.”
Italy beats Canada
Earlier in Fukuoka, Italy cruised to its second victory of the World Cup by defeating Canada 48-7 on Sunday.
Canada is the tournament’s second lowest-ranked team after Namibia and it struggled against the rampant Azzurri which stormed to a bonus-points victory.
There were tries for Braam Steyn, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri, Mattia Bellini, Federico Zani, and Matteo Minozzi — as well as a penalty try — for Italy, with Andrew Coe providing Canada’s only score.
Tougher tests lie ahead for Italy in the shape of South Africa and New Zealand, both heavy favorites to get out of Pool B, but the Azzurri is enjoying its fine start.
“I promised the guys a bit of an old-school night out. It was a four-day turnaround, and that’s tough for any team, mentally as well as physically,” said coach Conor O’Shea.
“The whole squad has reacted brilliantly. We’re looking forward to tonight and then we’ll start looking ahead to the next challenge.”
Meanwhile, Samoan center Rey Lee-Lo has been banned for three matches following a tackle in his side’s victory over Russia on Tuesday.
Lee-Lo initially received a yellow card for the high tackle on Vasily Artemyev, but a disciplinary panel ruled that the challenge was worthy of a red.
The 32-year-old Lee-Lo, who scored when he returned to the field from the sin bin, will miss Samoa’s three remaining pool games.