Eddie Jones claims his side finally ‘played like England’ in the second 40 minutes to overturn their half-time deficit and beat Japan at Twickenham.
England looked set for the routine victory that had been predicted pre-match when Danny Care finished off a superb team try after just four minutes but a scintillating display of free-flowing attacking rugby saw the Brave Blossoms lead 15-10 at the break.
Personnel changes and an improved intensity in the second period helped Jones’ troops fight back however, as Mark Wilson and debutant Joe Cokanasiga got their first international tries and Dylan Hartley rounded off a 35-15 triumph.
And the England coach was pleased that Japan offered such a tough test, while claiming that the early try was actually to his side’s detriment.
“It was a fantastic experience for us,” said Jones. “I was really pleased with how well Japan played, they got stuck in.
“We wanted a game that tested us, we put out a different team, playing different combinations to see how players would combine in different positions.
“We probably got seduced by the try in the first few minutes, scoring an early try, players sub-consciously think it’s going to be easy and we knocked off a little but I thought our second half response was excellent.
“We just had to up our attitude and effort, and tweak a couple of technical things. The score was 15-10 at half-time – they had 80% possession, 65% territory and eight penalties to one so we were actually in a pretty good position at the break considering that.
“The way we responded pleased me. We played like England in the second half – I can only recall Japan getting in our 22m once in that second period. The stats of the first half were probably reversed.”
First of many for Joe
Cokanasiga impressed on his England debut – the powerhouse winger taking nine bruising carries for a combined 75 metres.
Defenders were bouncing off the 19-stone, 6ft 4in 21-year-old with regularity and Jones predicts a bright future for the youngster.
“He will score plenty, he’s a big lad, he has pace and power,” added the coach. “He can find the line, so he will score a few more at Twickenham down that left-hand side.”
The winger’s debut try was created by Jamie George catching a loose ball following a hanging box kick, shifting it wide to Richard Wigglesworth and the replacement scrum-half making yards down the wing before feeding Cokanasiga inside to barrel through two defenders for the score.
And Wigglesworth joked that he wouldn’t have heard the end of it had he gone for the line himself.
“Seeing the big man inside me I thought it’s best off giving it to him,” smiled the scrum-half. “If I’d been tackled into touch he might never had forgiven me and it’s nice to give him one on his first cap!”