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RWC 2023: England labour to victory over Japan to stay on track for playoffs

England laboured to a 34-12 bonus-point victory over Japan in their second error-strewn World Cup match in Nice on Sunday to set themselves up as likely Pool D winners.

Steve Borthwick's side, who dispelled pre-tournament jitters with a comprehensive 27-10 win over Argentina in their opening match, racked up a fourth win over a Japan team far from its 2019 vintage when they won their four pool matches at their home World Cup.

England will now wrap up their pool play with two games in Lille, against debutants Chile on September 23 and Samoa on October 7, two matches they would back themselves to win.

England had come into the World Cup with just four wins from their last 13 matches, but the victory over Los Pumas had seemingly taken the pressure off.

But they again looked like a shadow of their former selves, producing a litany of handling mistakes and wayward out-of-hand kicking, and generally failing to reproduce the game management needed to boss the match at the Stade de Nice.

"We're just really happy with another win tonight. We knew it was going to be a tough game. They're a great team, Japan, they challenge you in different ways," said England fly-half George Ford.

"We knew it wouldn't be until the third or fourth quarter until we could potentially pull away a bit. I'm just over the moon to get another win. Some improvements tonight, some things to get better at still.

"It was probably not the prettiest watching it. It's really hard to play with the ball in these conditions. These late kick-offs, the ball is greasy. You've got to find ways to break a team down but we got there in the end."

An early Semisi Masirewa knock-on behind his own line handed England possession, from which came an opening penalty by Ford, who ended

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