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Nowell caps remarkable return as England cruise into quarter-finals

Nowell caps remarkable return as England cruise into quarter-finals

Jack Nowell’s superb second-half solo score was the highlight as England cruised into the World Cup quarter-finals.

Eddie Jones’ side are the first team in Japan to seal their knockout berth, and they have done it with a game to spare.

Tomas Lavanini’s early red card made life a little easier for England, as Elliot Daly, Jonny May and Ben Youngs went over in the first half to open a 15-3 lead.

And after the break George Ford sealed the bonus point when he barged over early in the second half.

That allowed Jones to empty his bench, including the return from lengthy injury lay-offs of Mako Vunipola and Nowell.

And it was Nowell, who injured his ankle back in June in the Premiership final and then had an emergency appendix operation in the summer, who produced the game’s real highlight.

The winger bounced off three defenders on his way to the right corner for their fifth try, and was smiling from ear to ear afterwards.

He said: “I’m relieved. It’s been made quite easy by the boys. Me and Mako (Vunipola) have been injured quite a long time, but always felt we were part of the team.

“So to be fit again, to be able to get out there and then to score a try at the end, it was a special feeling. So relieved and very happy.

I definitely felt back in the groove. I had a good training week, getting back to training before the USA game, so had a lot of confidence. The training’s very tough, the competition for places is so tough, too, but, when you’ve got these boys behind you and the way we are as a team, driving each other, it makes it easy.”

England finish off their Pool C campaign next weekend against France in Yokohama, and victory will confirm their status as Pool winners and set up a likely quarter-final meeting with Australia.

And head coach Jones insists there is plenty more to come from his side.

He added: “I like the team’s psychological application today. We didn’t get seduced by the game and it was a difficult one with the breakdown hard to get quick ball and the tackle assists not releasing which we have seen quite consistently in the competition and it is hard to play phase rugby at the moment.

“When you get 15 on 14 the seduction is to want to play a lot of phase rugby and we probably did that in the first half, and in the second half we got back to good solid rugby and won the game in fashion. The competition is only going to get tougher and we have to be relentless chasing areas we can get better in.”

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