Eng­land em­phat­i­cally lay ghosts of 2015 to rest

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - THE SCORE -

Ge­orge Ford in­sists Eng­land have buried the mem­ory of their dis­mal World Cup per­for­mance four years ago af­ter claim­ing a quar­ter-fi­nal place in Ja­pan.

Ed­die Jones’ ti­tle con­tenders be­came the first team to se­cure pas­sage into the knock­out phase af­ter beat­ing Ar­gentina 39-10 at Tokyo Sta­dium, a third suc­ces­sive bonus-point vic­tory.

With a game to spare – Satur­day’s Pool C cli­max against France – Eng­land have al­ready sur­passed their show­ing in 2015 when they be­came the first host na­tion to exit the tour­na­ment at the group stage.

“It’s a bit of a dif­fer­ent feel­ing,” said Ford, who was present when de­feats to Wales and Aus­tralia ush­ered in one of Twick­en­ham’s dark­est hours.

Jones and his coach­ing lieu­tenants scouted Wales’ pool win over Aus­tralia last week know­ing Eng­land would face one of the heavy­weights in the last eight.

The line-up will be de­ter­mined next week­end but Ford, who was su­perb against Ar­gentina as he en­joys an ex­tended run at fly­half, re­fuses to look be­yond France.

“France are a very dan­ger­ous team so we just have to pre­pare for the best French team next week. It’s go­ing to be a chal­leng­ing game.

“You’ve seen at this World Cup so far that the French flair when they get go­ing – their of­fload­ing game – makes them very dan­ger­ous.”

A clearer pic­ture over the fit­ness of Billy Vu­nipola will emerge in the next 24 hours as the Sara­cens num­ber eight con­tin­ues to be med­i­cally as­sessed.

Vu­nipola hob­bled off at half-time with his left an­kle heav­ily strapped but the ini­tial prog­no­sis is that the sprain is not too se­vere.

A doubt also hangs over the fit­ness of loose­head prop Joe Mar­ler, who ap­peared to clutch his ham­string as he left the pitch in the se­cond half.

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