Pool D continues at the Rugby World Cup tonight as England contest their second fixture at the Stade de Nice. After a rousing, George Ford-inspired 27-10 defeat of Argentina that came despite Tom Curry’s early red card in Marseille, Steve Borthwick’s side have received a much-needed confidence boost after a horror build-up to the tournament. Another win this evening would have them firmly on course to go through to the quarter-finals as group winners.
Japan are always viewed by the heavyweights as a potential World Cup danger after huge wins over the likes of Ireland, Scotland and South Africa in recent years, though this current crop is not quite of the same quality. The Brave Blossoms – who had major scrum issues as they were blown away at Twickenham last autumn – made a slow start against Chile on opening weekend, yet eventually ran in six tries in a 42-12 victory over the plucky debutants.
Borthwick has brought in the fit-again Kyle Sinckler, Joe Marler and Lewis Ludlam for tonight’s showdown, while Jamie Joseph has captain Kazuki Himeno back and also drafts in Shota Horie, Pieter Labuschagne and Tomoki Osada. Follow England vs Japan at the Rugby World Cup live below, with expert analysis from Nick Purewal at the Stade de Nice.
England need to speed up the time it takes to recycle the ball tonight, writes Nick Purewal in Nice.
All the top teams rattle through attacking rucks and it is time for England to follow suit.
The angle of entry to rucks needs to improve for England, so that one Red Rose player can take out two defenders at the same time.
The atmosphere is already building very nicely indeed at the Stade de Nice with just under two hours to go until kick-off.
Plenty of Japan fans have made the trip for their biggest game in Pool D.
Dallaglio: England must be smart to get best from Vunipola
Billy Vunipola has been a long way from his best when playing for England recently, writes Lawrence Dallaglio.
The last thing the Saracens powerhouse No8 needed was to miss further matches through red-card suspension, after a long knee injury absence.
The 30-year-old always needs regular rugby to find his rhythm, and England will want him involved as much as possible now he is available after his ban.
Let’s hope that he can find his way back to his very destructive best, thanks to the motivation of repaying his coaches and team-mates who have stuck with him during that ban.
England need to add an extra layer of intelligence to the way they use Vunipola, both on and off the ball. It cannot be a situation where the opposition are just using Vunipola as tackle practice.
England must put him in the position where his involvements carry significant impact.
Steve Borthwick and his coaches could do worse than study old Saracens tapes and examine exactly when Vunipola receives the ball and when he does not. Use him in an obvious way and all they will do is put a target on his back.
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England vs Japan prediction
Japan may have stunned some big teams in past World Cups but this side isn’t quite of the same level and they are certainly not expected to repeat the trick this evening.
Should England continue their front-foot approach and show off some more attacking confidence and discipline to go with their ferocious defence that smothered the Pumas in Marseille, then they should seal another comfortable win – hopefully with 15 players on the field for the duration after four red cards in their last six matches.
England to win with a bonus point.
Japan team news
Japan are boosted tonight by the return of influential captain Kazuki Himeno, who was lost to a minor calf issue shortly before the Brave Blossoms’ opening win over World Cup debutants Chile in Toulouse last weekend.
Jack Cornelsen moves back to lock with the skipper back at No8 as Amanaki Saumaki drops out, while at hooker Shota Horie replaces Atsushi Sakate.
Pieter Labuschagne is also in for Kanji Shimokawa at flanker, while the only change in the backs sees Tomoki Osada preferred to Dylan Riley at outside centre.
England team news
Steve Borthwick has made three changes to the England starting lineup that faced Argentina in Marseille, two of which are in the front row.
Kyle Sinckler is fit to start after a pectoral injury, while fellow prop Joe Marler is also called in as Ellis Genge drops to the bench and Dan Cole is omitted entirely.
The other change is in the back row, where Ben Earl shifts to flanker in place of the suspended Tom Curry as Lewis Ludlam starts at No8.
Billy Vunipola is on the bench after his two-match suspension, with Ben Youngs replacing fellow veteran Danny Care as the back-up to starting scrum-half Alex Mitchell.
With Owen Farrell serving the final game of his ban, Courtney Lawes captains England once more.
England vs Japan lineups
England XV: Steward; May, Marchant, Tuilagi, Daly; Ford, Mitchell; Marler, George, Sinckler; Itoje, Chessum; Lawes (c), Earl, Ludlam
Replacements: Dan, Genge, Stuart, Martin, Vunipola, Youngs, Smith, Lawrence
Japan XV: Masirewa; Matsushima, Osada, Nakamura, Naikabula; Matsuda, Nagare; Inagaki, Horie, Gu; Cornelsen, Fakatava; Leitch, Labuschagne, Himeno (c)
Replacements: Sakate, Millar, Ai Valu, Dearns, Shimokawa, Saito, Riley, Lemeki
Where to watch England vs Japan
TV channel: In the UK, tonight’s game will be broadcast live and free to air on ITV1, with coverage starting at 7:15pm.
Live stream: The ITV website and ITVX app will also offer a free live stream service for fans online.
Welcome to England vs Japan LIVE coverage!
Good evening and welcome to the Evening Standard’s live coverage of England vs Japan at the Rugby World Cup.
After getting a huge morale boost from their impressive, George Ford-inspired 27-10 victory over Argentina in Marseille last weekend achieved despite the early sending off of Tom Curry, Steve Borthwick’s side are commanding favourites to secure another win here that would see them firmly on course to reach the quarter-finals as Pool D winners.
But England will be wary of the threat posed by Japan, who were brushed aside 52-13 at Twickenham last autumn but are no stranger to a World Cup upset having dispatched the likes of Ireland, Scotland and South Africa in recent times.
The Brave Blossoms also made a winning start to this year’s campaign against debutants Chile and have potentially key showdowns with Samoa and the Pumas on the horizon.
Kick-off tonight is at 8pm BST, so stay tuned for all the latest build-up, live updates and expert analysis from Standard Sport’s rugby correspondent Nick Purewal, who is at the Stade de Nice.