England thrash 14-man US at World Cup

England's Joe Cokanasiga in action with Will Hooley of the US during their match on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 26 September 2019

England thrash 14-man US at World Cup

KOBE: England made it two wins from two at the Rugby World Cup as they scored seven tries during a 45-7 rout of the US in Kobe on Thursday that saw the Eagles receive the first red card of the tournament.

First-half tries from stand-in captain George Ford, Billy Vunipola and Luke Cowan-Dickie gave England a 19-0 lead at the break before Joe Cokanasiga secured the bonus point early in the second half.

Ruaridh McConnochie and Lewis Ludlam then scored their maiden Test tries before Eagles flanker John Quill was sent off 10 minutes from time for an illegal shoulder charge on replacement back Owen Farrell.

There was still time for Cokanasiga to grab his second try and England’s seventh before Bryce Campbell ensured the USA avoided the embarrassment of being “nilled” with a try after 80 minutes were up.

England, the 2003 world champions, made 10 changes to the side that beat Tonga 35-3 in their Pool C opener in Sapporo last weekend for what was the USA’s first match of this tournament.

Earlier, Italy ran amok against Scotland to bag their second bonus-point win in as many games with a 48-7 victory in Fukuoka.

It was not a perfect performance as Italy slipped at times from flair and finesse to sloppy, but they did enough to dominate seven tries to one.

With Italy seeking a first World Cup quarterfinal berth, their maximum points from two matches sent a message to heavyweights South Africa not to underestimate them.

The Springboks, who lost their opener against New Zealand, paid a high price when they were guilty of taking Japan lightly at the last World Cup and cannot afford to do the same again when they meet Italy in Shizuoka in eight days.

Under the closed roof of the Kobe Misaki Stadium, the Eagles suffered an early setback when, after the opening scrum, 19-year-old prop David Ainu’u limped off injured in the third minute.

And three minutes later England had their first try.

Number 8 Vunipola, making his 11th consecutive Test start, ran the ball from deep before Ford, leading England in place of the benched Farrell, spotted a gap in the poorly aligned defense and ran in a try between the posts which he converted.

England, however, again conceded several early penalties before the forward provided their second try.

Ford, declining a kickable penalty, booted the ball deep for an attacking lineout.

The ensuing rolling maul saw Vunipola driven over in the 25th minute, with Ford converting.

England’s third try arrived in similar fashion eight minutes later, the Eagles again powerless to resist a rolling maul from a penalty line-out, with hooker Cowan-Dickie scoring his second try in two matches.

Ford’s conversion hit the post but England were still 19-0 in front.

They could have had a bonus point on the stroke of half-time only for center Jonathan Joseph to knock on in sight of the line.


Fernando Alonso ramps up Dakar Rally preparations with podium finish at AlUla-Neom cross-country rally

Updated 24 min 19 sec ago

Fernando Alonso ramps up Dakar Rally preparations with podium finish at AlUla-Neom cross-country rally

  • The result comes at perfect timing less than two months before two-time Formula 1 world champion tackles Dakar
  • Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi took first place

JEDDAH: Fernando Alonso continued his preparations for his Dakar Rally debut in Saudi Arabia by taking third place in AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally and secure his inaugural rally podium finish in the process this week.
The result comes at perfect timing less than two months before two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso takes the wheel for Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020, the Middle East’s first-ever edition of Dakar Rally, which is hosted by the kingdom from 5 to 17 January.
“It was an ideal preparation for Dakar as we discovered new terrain that we will come across again at Dakar,” Alonso said.
“It is a great feeling to finish third and get the first rally podium in my life. The fact that it happened here in Saudi Arabia at this time gives us a lot of confidence going into Dakar,” Alonso added.
Starting in AlUla and extending over 765km before the finale in Neom, AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally was contested across four stages over five days, and the former Formula 1 champion said it was an “excellent training” for him on a similar terrain and in close weather conditions to what would be expected at Dakar.
Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi took first place at Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally, while compatriot Yasir Seaidan finished second, with Alonso rounding off the podium places.
Alonso, who made his desert rally debut in Morocco last month, was co-driven by five-time Dakar bike winner Marc Coma, and the Spanish duo will be together again at Dakar Saudi Arabia as part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing team.
The 2005 and 2006 Formula 1 champion got his campaign at Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally underway to a good start on Day 1 before taking the pace up a notch on the second and third days to set his team up for a podium finish on the last day. “We continue with our plan and preparations, step by step and adapting as fast as we can,” Alonso said of his plans ahead of Dakar.
Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will consist of 12 stages, allowing pilots coming from across six continents to discover Saudi Arabia’s rich past, live its modernized present, and meet its future as they race through the Kingdom.
The pilots will kick off Rally Dakar from Jeddah, the bride of the Red Sea, through to Neom, a fully sustainable city of the future, then pass by the historical sites of Riyadh to face the Empty Quarter, a huge desert of unbroken sand, to end in Qiddiya, a future entertainment, sports and cultural destination.
A criminal investigation was been launched after an armed man intercepted a vehicle taking part in the rally.