Guy Porter scored his first Test tries as England revived their November campaign with a comfortable win over Japan at Twickenham on Saturday.
Marcus Smith scored a double as well, with impressive full-back Freddie Steward also crossing as England ran in six tries in total, all converted by captain Owen Farrell, as well as being awarded a penalty try.
England’s enterprising display was far removed from their turgid 30-29 loss at home to Argentina in their Autumn Nations Series opener last weekend, with inside centre Farrell telling Prime Video: “We let go a little bit more, we stayed constant throughout the game. It’s not that we didn’t make mistakes this week, we just reacted better.
“We didn’t think too much, sometimes when you come together for the first game in a while you overthink things. We wanted to show the best of ourselves.”
This was only the second match between the teams in the professional era, with England winning 35-15 at Twickenham when they last met four years ago after Japan led 15-10 at half-time.
But there was no repeat on Saturday, with the dry conditions and Japan’s desire to play a running game of their own making it easier for England to attack than it had been against Argentina.
England forced Japan to concede several costly scrum penalties, as they scored three first-half tries through Steward, fly-half Smith and Porter to lead 24-6 at the break.
England coach Eddie Jones, a former Japan boss, had made several changes, with wing Jonny May, scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet and Sam Simmonds all recalled in a bid to inject extra pace into the team.
But England suffered a setback shortly before kick-off when Jack Nowell was ruled out by an abdominal injury, with the right wing replaced by Joe Cokanasiga.
Farrell opened the scoring with an early penalty before England had their first try in the 12th minute.
From an attacking line-out off a scrum penalty, England won possession and the ball was worked quickly from Farrell to Smith, with the No 10 sending in Steward on an angled run that left the Japan defence flat-footed.
Farrell converted and England led 10-0.
Smith had a kick charged down and a couple of knock-ons halted England’s momentum.
But a fine counter-attacking run by Steward released Cokanasiga, who released Smith for a try in the right corner that Farrell converted to leave England 15-0 up.
Japan, playing the attacking game that saw them impress on home soil at the 2019 World Cup, eventually got into the game but were limited to two penalties from fly-half Takuya Yamasawa.
May, making his first Test appearance in a year because of injury and Covid, was shown a yellow card for killing the ball after hauling down Japan centre Dylan Riley in sight of England’s try-line.
But despite being a man down, England struck on the stroke of half-time when a long cut-out pass from van Poortvliet allowed Simmonds to send in Porter for the Leicester midfielder’s debut Test try.
The faultless Farrell converted and England were well ahead at half-time.
Ellis Genge extended England’s lead when the prop powered over from close range early in the second half and moments later Porter, winning just his third cap, ran onto an excellently weighted grubber kick from Farrell for his second score.
Japan’s Naoto Saito went over just before the hour mark for a score converted by fellow replacement back Seungsin Lee.
But with 10 minutes left, England were awarded a penalty try as Japan replacement Siosaia Fifita was sin-binned for bringing down a maul.
And there was still time for Smith to score his second try when he raced onto a kick ahead from replacement back Henry Slade.
England face New Zealand at Twickenham next weekend before finishing their Autumn Nations campaign at home to world champions South Africa on November 26.
“We’ve got seven days together before the All Blacks and we’ll see how far we can go,” said Farrell.
© Agence France-Presse
— Autumn Nations Series (@autumnnations) November 12, 2022
© Agence France-Presse