England 'A' thrash Japan
July 6, 2003
England 'A' completed their summer tour with a convincing 55-20 victory over Japan in Tokyo.
Bath fullback Iain Balshaw ran in two tries as Jim Mallinder's side made it five wins from five after wins against Canada, USA (twice) a Japanese Divisional XV and Japan.
The Bath also set up Will Green for a try with a superb double chip to stake his claim for Clive Woodward's 30-man squad.
Jim Mallinder's tourists finished their month-long trip to Vancouver and Tokyo by twice adding the scalp of a gutsy Japanese side to their Churchill Cup triumph.
For Balshaw, released from the squad in New Zealand last month, it was a positive end to a season in which he had played just nine games in 11 months for Bath after recovering from shoulder surgery.
``I was obviously very disappointed when Clive said he was releasing me but it was the right decision. I'd only had nine games in 11 months, I wasn't match-fit and I had lost some of my pace,'' said Balshaw.
``Joining this tour has given me a good opportunity to get some matches in.
``The goal is to get in that squad of 30. There are some great players involved on this tour and if they keep playing the way they are, they will be pushing the senior boys.''
The full-back left the Japanese standing in the 35th minute when he took Phil Greening's pass and raced 20 metres down the wing to touch down.
Dave Walder's conversion made it 24-10 at half-time after tries from prop Mike Worsley and two from scrum-half Martyn Wood.
Worsley opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he was up well in support of Andy Hazell's break and he rumbled over with Japan winger Hirotoki Onozawa clinging to his back.
Wood scored twice in seven minutes. The first came after a one-two with James Simpson-Daniel, who popped the ball up perfectly for him to race down the wing and step off his left foot past the last defender.
He wrong-footed fly-half Keiji Hirose for his second after Hugh Vyvyan had picked up from the scrum.
Japan hit back through centre Hideki Namba after a break from Colomiers number eight Yuya Saito before Balshaw put some daylight between the sides.
The floodgates opened in the second half and England's performance was all the more impressive given locks Chris Jones and Alex Codling went off injured and they played the last 35 minutes with prop Andrew Sheridan and number eight Vyvyan as line-out jumpers.
Simpson-Daniel reopened the scoring when Henry Paul and then Balshaw both threw out long passes and the Gloucester winger stepped out of a tackle on his way to the line.
Balshaw created Green's try when he chipped over the defence with his right foot, gathered and then lobbed the ball with his left into the path of the racing prop.
From then on it was one-way traffic. First, Balshaw intercepted a pass from Namba in his own 22 and raced to the posts unopposed.
Then, prop Neal Hatley brought up the 50-point mark when he weaved in and out on a 30-metre run to the line, while Ben Johnston finished off England's scoring from Balshaw's pass.
Japan kept fighting until the final whistle, with replacement Takashi Yoshida going over.
Mallinder said: ``It's certainly been an enjoyable tour and along the way we have played some good rugby.
``In most of the games we have had to work hard for the wins, particularly in the first periods, but the class of the side has come through.
``It has been a very good experience for me and I have really enjoyed working with Hugh Vyvyan, who has been a wonderful captain, the players and an excellentmanagement team.''
England now face France home and away and Wales in the build-up to Australia in October.
Mallinder will make recommendations to England coach Clive Woodward for his initial World Cup squad of 50, which he will reduce to a party of 30 on September 8.
``We have had some very good individual performances and I personally feel that there are players on this tour who should be going to the World Cup,'' added Mallinder.
Japan: Kurihara, Ohata, Namba, Motoki, Onozawa, Hirose, Sonoda, Hisadomi, Amino, Toyoyama, Kiso, Parker, Ito, Miuchi, Saito.
Replacements: Yamamoto, Matsuo, Tanuma, Watanbe, Tsukida, Parkinson, T. Yoshida.
England A: Balshaw, Cueto, Johnston, Paul, Simpson-Daniel, Walder, Wood, Worsley, Greening, Green, Codling, Brown, Anglesea, Hazell, Vyvyan.
Replacements: Titterell, Hatley, Sheridan, Jones, Hyde, Scarbrough, Barkley.
Referee: Kelvin Deaker (NZ)