Chiefs duo help England to victory
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs duo Luke Cowan-Dickie and Matt Kvesic both came off the bench to help give England the perfect send-off ahead of the Rugby World Cup as they crushed Italy 37-0 at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
Having led 9-0 at the break courtesy of three penalties from skipper Owen Farrell, Eddie Jones’ side dominated the second period, running in converted tries from Ben Youngs, Joe Marchant, Ellis Genge and Anthony Watson.
Both Cowan-Dickie and Kvesic were introduced for the final quarter of the match, but the former had to come back off in the dying embers with a knee injury.
Thankfully, Jones delivered a positive outlook on the Cornishman post-match, ensuring he will join club-mates Jack Nowell and Henry Slade on the plane to Japan tomorrow.
For Kvesic, meanwhile, it was a fourth Test cap and his first since 2016. It was just reward for an outstanding campaign last season, one in which he was shortlisted for the Premiership’s Player of the Year accolade.
Jones believes Friday night’s clash was the perfect preparation for his side heading into the Rugby World Cup.
“It was an outstanding game for us, outstanding,” he said. “It was a great dress rehearsal for the World Cup and I was really pleased with how the players solved the problem in the first half. The night has been a real success for us.
“We were a little loose with the ball in the first period so it was a great learning exercise for the players. They knuckled down, played with a lot of purpose and intent in the second half.
“The second half we were really purposeful, we made some changes which we always planned to do so it was a good exercise.”
And ahead of their first World Cup game against Tonga on September 22, Jones declared himself satisfied with their progress.
“We’ve had a good period of time,” he said. “We are going in the right direction. There are 20 teams getting on that plane and they all want to win the World Cup. We’ve done a god job with our preparation but we can do better and we still have some time to go.”