Rugby World Cup: John Quill red card for savage tackle mars England win over USA
Cork native John Quill saw red for his shoulder-led charge on Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell of England receives medical treatment during the Rugby World Cup match against USA. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images
Tough love for Owen Farrell in Japan. Held back by Eddie Jones as a replacement for this on his birthday, the Saracens playmaker was at the end of a late and dangerous hit in the 70th minute after John Quill, the Youghal openside who made his debut for the USA in 2012, met him with a late and head-high challenge which briefly incensed the partisan crowd.
Gary Gold, the USA coach, readily conceded that the play was an unacceptable low on a calamitous night for his side in Kobe. Jones, though, remained delighted with England’s overall performance and was not overly concerned about the state of Farrell’s face afterwards.
“They’re about to barbecue part of Owen’s nose, the bit he left on the pitch. He is missing part of his nose which is unfortunate but he is married and has a young child so he is not looking for any young lass in Kobe tonight so he will be okay.”
This was a homecoming party for Jones. The Americans could do nothing to stop England running their playbook through the deft string-pulling of starting outhalf George Ford, transporting a bit of Twickenham’s winter chorus to Japan’s south coast.
Seven tries over the evening which advertised England’s versatile pack game and the surging power of their backs, the win sets them up perfectly for their outing against Argentina. It was hot here – 27 degrees, according to Jones, with 85 per cent humidity and he is expecting similar conditions next time out.
The Americans’ brightest attacking moment came courtesy of former Connacht player AJ MacGinty, who executed an audacious right-foot chip that fell perfectly inside England’s 22 with inches to spare for Paul Lasike to take on the burst. It was as close as they would come to a score for 80 minutes.
After 20 minutes, Ford, having opened England’s account with a try and in a magisterial mood, chipped a weighted kick over the USA’s defensive line to exploit one of many penalty advantages. There was room to chase but the wing in question was Joe Marler, the mullet-haired prop who has returned from retirement. On a sultry night, it was a tough chase to give him. England kicked for touch when play was called back for the penalty. Luke Cowan-Dickie found George Kruis at the back of the lineout and the USA offered little resistance to the set-piece maul finished by Billy Vunipola.
On the half hour mark, England were at it again, driving into the 22 and changing the angle of attack so cleverly that half the shires crossed the American line with only MacGinty there to offer any sort of defence. Cowan-Dickie grounded for the try and even if Ford hit the post with his conversion, the crowd settled in for what was destined to be a one-sided show.
Paul Mullen, a product of the Aran Islands via Glenstal Abbey and Texas A&M, made an appearance for the USA in the second half as England began to overwhelm the Americans in the scrum, in the maul and, finally, out wide.
England possibly have a case to answer for Piers Francis’s high tackle on fullback Will Hooley in the first two minutes of the game: even that prospect didn’t dampen Jones’s spirits.
“It is what it is. We never discuss that area. We leave it to the judiciary or citing commission or whoever it is and we’ll take what is handed out.”
The last quarter became an exhibition of England’s surging running game, with Jonathan Joseph, spinning and cutting through a pair of despairing tackles to set up Joe Cokanasiga in the 47th minute with the first of his two tries. Ruaridh McConnochie, the former Sevens star lurked out wide to finish a move that started with Courtney Lawes smashing through close to the USA posts. Ford, after fluffing a couple of penalties, was perfect with the conversion.
“I think he ran the game,” said USA coach Gary Gold. “George was the puppeteer. He put the ball in behind us and we made a few mistakes and paid for them.”
England, having fun, looked for another after the gong. There was a suspicion of one or two knock-ons but referee Nic Berry was like an indulgent schoolmaster in the yard after the bell sounds. Instead, MacGinty stole a ball in front of the England posts and the ball reached a stunned Bryce Campbell, who crashed over for a late gift for the Americans. Nobody minded.
ENGLAND: Elliot Daly; Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph, Piers Francis, Joe Cokanasiga; George Ford, Willi Heinz; Joe Marler, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, George Kruis; Tom Curry, Lewis Ludlam; Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Ellis Genge for Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler for Dan Cole, Mark Wilson for Billy Vunipola (all half-time), Owen Farrell for Piers Francis, Ben Youngs for Willi Heinz, Courtney Lawes for Joe Launchbury (all 47 mins), Jack Singleton for Luke Cowan-Dickie (70).
USA: Will Hooley; Blaine Scully, Marcel Brache, Paul Lasike, Martin Iosefo; AJ MacGinty, Shaun Davies; David Ainuu, Joe Fautete’e, Titi Lamositele; Ben Landry, Nick Civetta; Tony Lamborn, John Quill, Cam Dolan.
Replacements: Olive Kilifi for David Ainuu (3 mins), Mike Te’o for Will Hooley, Paul Mullen for Titi Lamositele (both 43), 19 Greg Peterson for Nick Civetta, Ruben De Haas for Shaun Davies (both 48 mins), Dylan Fawsitt for Joe Taufete’e, Bryce Campbell for Paul Lasike), Hanco Germishuys for Tony Lamborn (all 62 mins).
Sent off: Quill (70 mins).
Referee: Nic Berry (Aus).