What if rugby were as simple as a sumptuous offering from Marcus Smith to his teammate Henry Arundell, delicately placed on the field without even soiling his white jersey? Against Chile, the XV de la Rose seemed to find an attractive face after months of battling against its own doubts. Saturday September 23, on the lawn of the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, in Lille, England produced an offensive festival, scoring no less than 11 tries (71-0).
Barring a catastrophic scenario, Steve Borthwick’s men ensured with this improved victory to see the quarter-finals, having already won against Argentina (27-10) and Japan (34-12) in the group D.
Los Cóndores, the lowest ranked nation in this World Cup, will not have had a say this Saturday. Despite an eager start to the match, the Chileans were quickly overwhelmed by the physical and athletic power of the English, demonstrating a very attractive one-pass game. Carried by their percussion force which left the Chilean defense bloodless, the XV de la Rose took advantage of the open spaces on the outside to correct their opponents.
Henry Arundell scores a quintuplet
The record of the day goes to Henry Arundell, future resident of Racing 92. The young full-back, 20 years old, scored five tries during the match. After unlocking the British counter in the twentieth minute with a skipped pass from his captain, fly-half Owen Farrell – returning from suspension – he again made the difference behind the Chilean defense on four occasions (30e48e60e69e) to become the third man to score a quintuple in a World Cup match – the record being held by New Zealander Marc Ellis, who scored a sextuplet in 1995.
Théo Dan (24e45e), Bevan Rodd (35e), Marcus Smith (40e77e) and Jack Willis (80e) also went for it, winning their duels and their percussions up to the line. Only 34 minutes were needed for the English to pocket the offensive bonus. Formidable by their collective strength, they systematically passed in front of the ball carrier, making each ball carried an ordeal for the South Americans.
Despite a few balls which provoked the English, the Chileans were undeniably overwhelmed in all areas of play. In the first half, Steve Borthwick’s men already had 70% possession. Los Cóndores will nevertheless be able to regret two missed touches which could have allowed them to open the scoring.
The return of Owen Farrell
This Saturday, the event within the event was also the return of Owen Farrell. Despite a little imprecision against the poles (three missed transformations), “Faz” successfully returned to his place as opener of the XV de la Rose, after six weeks of suspension which followed his red card against Wales, on August 12.
If the last Six Nations Tournament had exposed England’s weaknesses, this time he wanted to show his pivotal role, he who now finds himself challenged by George Ford – formidable against Argentina – and Marcus Smith, established for the first time in the World Cup as a full-back and author of two tries.
The Saracens flyhalf can, however, draw on his experience to claim his place as number 10 and captain: with 16 points scored during this match, Owen Farrell is only one unit away from Jonny’s record Wilkinson, the player who scored the most points for England (1,179 points).
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