The stand-in England captain got back to snuff out Telusa Veainu break
An incredible Courtney Lawes try-saving tackle was the highlight of the first half action at Twickenham.
England would surge past Tonga 69-3, with tries coming thick and fast in the second half, but the back-rower’s defensive intervention deserves huge praise.
Lawes – stand-in skipper with Owen Farrell out of the Tonga Test following a positive Covid test – chased down flying full-back Telusa Veainu after he had intercepted an errant pass from England centre Henry Slade. Having turned opposition 15 Freddie Steward inside out with his changing of direction, it looked like the line was begging… until openside Lawes got there to force a knock-on.
There were five tries for England in the first half, but the lung-busting play had Twickenham on their feet.
England had made great leeway on the fringes. There was a driven try for Jamie George, but tries for Adam Radwan and Jonny May exemplified the dominance England had wide – rapid hands from late call-up ten George Furbank unleashed Manu Tuilagi up the touchline too, in the build-up to that May score. The Gloucester star sent Solomone Kata completely in the wrong direction with his footwork.
That man also saw yellow after half-committing to jumping for the ball and taking May out in the air. England also scored in the first half with Maro Itoje after a burst up the middle by Ellis Genge, and with Ben Youngs dummying his way past the cover, up the blindside of a maul.
Tonga saw a second yellow in the second half, with Walter Fifita carded for a deliberated knock-on.
Ben Youngs got a second score of the afternoon after pinching the ball off of a flummoxed Sione Vailanu at the back of a scrum and scorching up the field to make it 34-3.
Straight after this, Marcus Smith was introduced to the game, replacing Furbank at fly-half.
That man May got his second score, taking an inside pass from Youngs and stretching with every fibre to touch down. Smith converted the score to make it 41-3.
Viliame Fine was shown red for a shoulder shot to Marcus Smith’s head and neck area while both players were on the ground. In the corner shortly after, George scored his second from the back of a maul – fitting reward for an impressive afternoon’s work for the hooker.
The biggest cheer of the afternoon, though, was reserved for Smith as he raced away for a try. With Slade spotting a mismatch in midfield, he cleaved the defence and with a short ball given to the fly-half, Smith pulled clear as Twickenham roared.
Tonga’s resolve was broken and two more tries followed – a Jamie Blamire score off of a Smith break and an Alex Mitchell five-pointer after Radwan burned the defence and a babbling ball was dribbled towards the line by the nine. Smith converted both to make it 69-3 – an 11-try thrashing.
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