Marcus Smith’s dazzling cameo gives Eddie Jones and England taste of what’s to come

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Marcus Smith’s dazzling cameo gives Eddie Jones and England taste of what’s to come
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There is likely to be plenty of drama during this Autumn Nations Series, but England’s opener against Tonga here stuck rigidly to the script.

Throughout the game you were able to sit there and tick off everything you expected happen. Plenty of tries? Tick. Tongan ill discipline? Tick. A dazzling cameo from Marcus Smith? Tick.

In the end, Eddie Jones’ side ran out 69-3 winners and the gulf in quality between them and Tonga was clear during the 80 minutes.

England controlled the entire match and two Tonga yellow cards, and a red 11 minutes before full-time, only added to their dominance. They scored five tries in the first-half and helped themselves to six more after the break.

The only real drama came before kick-off, when captain Owen Farrell was confirmed as being absent after testing positive for Covid-19.

Tonga also arrived late to Twickenham so the start was delayed by 10 minutes to ensure, as per player welfare guidelines, they had a proper warm-up.

Other than that, this Test stayed true to the script you’d expect as England prepared for matches against Australia and South Africa with a comfortable win.

The tone was set within the first three minutes when wing Adam Radwan showed quick feet in the corner to get England on their way.

Jones’ side were playing on the front foot and their hunger for tries was shown as twice inside the opening 15 minutes they shunned the chance to claim three points and instead kicked for the corner.

It paid off too as the second kick resulted in Jamie George going over in the same corner as Radwan after a perfectly-executed driving maul.

Tonga did get themselves on the scoreboard, with Sonatane Takulua slotting a penalty after 20 minutes, but other than that England were in complete control.

George Furbank, who was filling in for Owen Farrell at fly-half, was lively and at the heart of England’s third try. Quick hands out right led to Manu Tuilagi rampaging towards the line.

He was stopped, but England - with Furbank running the show - shifted the ball out left for Jonny May to score.

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Tonga’s woes got worse eight minutes before the break as Solomone Kata was sent to the bin after it was judged he tackled May in the air.

Moments later, England were over the whitewash again as slick hands from Courtney Lawes sent in Ellis Genge - who offloaded to Maro Itoje to score.

That try was all about Lawes’ slick hands and minutes later he was responsible for a remarkable piece of defending. Telusa Veainu intercepted Henry Slade’s pass and look destined to score, but somehow Lawes got back to tackle him millimetres from the line.

It summed up England’s dominance and with seconds to go in the half they had their fifth try, with Youngs going over after George spun off the back of a maul.

Slade missed the conversion, as he had two others that half, and had England had a recognised kicker their lead would’ve been great than 26 points.

The second-half felt like a question of how many England would score and Tonga’s task was made harder when they once again went down to 14 men.

This time Walter Fifita was sent to the bin for a deliberate knock-on. Like the first yellow card, it felt harsh.

Five minutes later England were on the board again as Youngs ripped the ball off Sione Vailanu to score and then an even bigger cheer went up as Smith came on at fly-half.

He raised the tempo even more and Youngs showed slick hands to setup May for his second.

Tonga were beginning to become ragged and, after Viliami Fine was sent off for a high tackle, the floodgates well and truly opened as George, Smith, debutants Jamie Blamire and Alex Mitchell went over in the final 10 minutes.

Smith was at the heart of a lot of that - and that feels like something we will get used to saying this autumn.

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