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England again fail to shine but do enough against Japan to leave them on course for quarter-finals

England toiled at times but profited from a bizarre second half try to defeat at the Stade de Nice and earn a bonus-point in an unimpressive display that nonetheless leaves them in control of their World Cup Pool D.

With the game poised at 13-12, England captain Courtney Lawes cantered in for a try as the Japanese players stopped and watched, expecting to hear the referee's whistle for a knock-on when the ball in fact deflected off the head of prop Joe Marler.

That turned the tide of the contest as England ran in four tries in all, number eight Lewis Ludlam barging over in the first half before fullback Freddie Steward crossed in the corner and centre Joe Marchant grabbed the bonus-point with the final play of the game.

Before that England’s attack looked blunt as they battled to hold onto the ball and kicked away possession from promising attacking areas, but were let off the hook by a Japan side that did not have the quality to punish them.