The Saracens No 8 nearly scored one of the most stunning solo tries
England had to fight hard at the death to overcome Fiji and a searing Ben Earl break helped them get the job done in Marseille.
Steve Borthwick’s side had let a 14-point lead slip after two tries in four minutes for Fiji brought the game level with just ten minutes to go at the Stade Velodrome.
Watch amazing Ben Earl break
An Owen Farrell drop goal, taking inspiration from George Ford’s hat-trick against Argentina at the same venue on the opening weekend, helped England regain the lead but Fiji were still well in the fight.
England shipped the ball out to the right and Earl, playing at No 8, took the initiative into his own hands fashioning an incredible, lung-busting break downfield. The Saracens star showed a ridiculous turn of pace and at one stage looked like he might score one of the best solo tries.
He didn’t quite get that far but took England deep into enemy territory before eventually French referee Mathieu Raynal awarded the men in white a penalty. Owen Farrell did the rest by slotting it over to give England a six-point cushion.
Typically, there was a nervy conclusion to proceedings as Fiji fought until the 86th minute to make their first-ever semi-final until Courtney Lawes’s turnover ended their challenge. In August, Fiji made history at Twickenham with a first victory over England in the final World Cup warm-up match but they could not repeat the trick when it mattered most.
Afterwards, Earl said: ‘Last time at Twickenham, Fiji upped us physically. Defensively we had some moments we didn’t like watching. Hopefully, we see a lot more of our true selves watching this game back.”