JON CARDINELLI watched England score seven tries in their 54-12 thrashing of Fiji on Saturday.
England dominated for 65 minutes and may have inflicted a heavier defeat had they been more clinical. And yet, how different this contest may have been had Fiji capitalised on their early opportunities.
Two penalty-attempts as well as a couple of try-scoring chances were missed during that initial period where they had the English in a state of panic. Scrumhalf Danny Care was yellow-carded in the 10th minute for an alleged spear-tackle, and it was here where Fiji should have cashed in on the one-man advantage.
Unfortunately, they not only squandered that chance, but ended the period of numerical superiority having conceded three points at the other end.
The energy and fight of the Fijians seemed to flag when their captain Deacon Manu was sin-binned in the 29th minute. England had built up a 13-0 lead at this point, and Manu’s professional foul left the visitors short-handed.
The hosts’ dominant scrum subsequently won them a penalty try, while Ugo Monye also crossed the line before half-time to further extend the lead.
A 25-0 advantage at half-time may signify some dominance, and indeed England were particularly impressive at scrum-time. However, they displayed a lack of patience with ball in hand, making rash decisions or in many instances knocking the ball on when the tryline was at their mercy.
The scoreboard will suggest that they had a fantastic afternoon, but if they had been more clinical, they would have got close to 100 points.
The statement is fair when you consider who they were up against. Fiji were poor in every department. Their ill-discipline at the breakdown gifted England some soft penalties, and their woeful tackling allowed the English to run in some soft tries.
Lancaster may see the positives in what was effectively a warm-up exercise. England have shaken off the rust in this their first hit-out of the season.
However, Fiji were very weak. This match would have done nothing to prepare the English for the coming Tests against the Wallabies, Springboks and All Blacks.