England 35-11 Fiji

The scoreline suggests a comfortable England victory, although this was not the case for much of the game. England had a great opening 20 minutes, moving into a 15 point lead, which featured a penalty try and one from Mike Brown. Fiji appeared to have scored a try with a fantastic break from Nikola Matawalu, who ran half the field from a scrum. The referee awarded the try and as the conversion was being lined up, a relay showed it had been dropped; the referee reviewed it and no try was awarded. Moments later, a cross kick found Nemani Nadolo and Fiji scored a try. The game became remained close, but Fiji missed penalties (they missed a total of 11 points from the boot) and a strong final 10 minutes from England featured tries from Mike Brown and Billy Vunipola went over in the last play, which added further gloss and secured a bonus point victory for England.

England will surely be pleased to have come through a tough opening encounter against a strong Fijian side and emerged victorious in the opening game of the tournament. England did not play well for around 50 minutes of the game, but secured a bonus point, which puts pressure on Wales and Australia to do the same against Fiji. In the tough-looking Group A, this could yet prove to be crucial. If England want to do well in the tournament, they will need to improve on the performance of tonight, but it is a foundation to build on. In contrast, Fiji will be looking to spring a shock result on Wales and/or Australia, but the way they tired towards the end of the match suggests that they might just fall short.

Finally, I was surprised at the involvement of the TMO. All of the decisions seemed to take a long time and on a couple of occasions he seemed to ask the referee to look at things as opposed to the referee asking him to look at things. If this continues throughout the tournament, there are going to be some very long games and I think it undermines the role of the referee if they are constantly being told to look at things as opposed to asking for help when they need it.


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