England began their defence of the World Rugby U20 Championships with a dominant nine try 59-7 victory over Japan in Calvisano.
Searching for their third U20 World title in a row, England started with a bang scoring after just forty seconds through Saracens wing George Perkins, with the Bath and former Bryanston School outside half Rory Jennings adding the extras, the first of a personal fourteen point haul.
By the time ten minutes had gone, England were already 19-0 ahead after Yorkshire Carneige hooker Jack Walker, who captained the club at just 18, and Stuart Townsend of Exeter Chiefs both crossed the line, with Jennings converting Walkerâ€™s score.
Over the next ten minutes it was the Aaron Morris show. The Saracens Academy full back, who started last yearâ€™s JWC final, crossed twice by the eighteenth minute, with Jennings converting both to put England a hugely impressive 33-0 ahead.
After such a fast start, the twelve minutes it took for Englandâ€™s next try seemed an age, but when it came on the half hour it was a beauty, Stuart Townsend tapping and going from inside his own half before racing away for his second try of the game, putting the defending champions 38-0 in front.
There was still time for one more score, and it was a beauty, a delightful chick through from rising star Nick Tompkins of Saracens feeding the Wasps and former Shiplake College wing Tom Howe for a try on his first U20 start.
Jenningsâ€™ conversion meant that England went into the break 45-0 up and more than certain of victory, with Head Coach Jon Callard deciding that that therefore presented an opportunity to make sure that as many players as possible got some game time.
One such player was the Exeter Chief Sam Skinner, who immediately made an impact, scoring after just a minuteâ€™s play in the second half to take England past the fifty point mark.
Perhaps it was reaching that psychological barrier and the confidence that comes with it, or perhaps it was the impact of such a raft of changes being made, but from there on out Japan really grew into the game and life became much tougher for England.
On the hour life got tougher still as a stray arm from Bathâ€™s former Bryanston School inside centre Max Clark saw him yellow carded and Japan awarded a penalty try, which they duly converted to make it 52-7.
From there, with the heat building and bodies and minds tiring, the game became a little error strewn and disjointed, however England were to have the last laugh with second row Will Witty scoring with the last play of the game on his England U20 debut.
Jennings added the extras to give the score that final bit of gloss, ending 59-7 and with Englandâ€™s defence well under way.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Jon Callard said:
â€œI am pleased with that performance, we came out of the blocks and started really well. We were clinical with the opportunities that presented themselves to us.”
â€œSecond half we emptied the bench and Japan found momentum. To their credit, they were very good and stretched us on the edge with their attacking play. We are through the first game and will be all the better for the experience of dealing with the heat and conditions out here.â€
On Twitter, captain Charlie Ewels praised Japan’s spirit:
“We said we wanted to start well but credit to Japan. They showed heart and passion in that second half.”
Englandâ€™s next game is on Saturday against Wales at 19.30 on BT Sport again, Wales lost 19-10 to France earlier today, putting England top of Group A with France in second place.
Full Time: England U20 59-7 Japan U20
England U20Â XV:
15 Aaron Morris (Saracens)
14 George Perkins (Saracens)
13 Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
12 Max ClarkÂ (Bath Rugby)
11 Tom Howe (Wasps)
10 Rory Jennings (Bath Rugby)
9 Stuart Townsend (Exeter Chiefs)
1 Ellis Genge (Bristol Rugby)
2 Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie)
3 Paul Hill (Yorkshire Carnegie)
4 Will Witty (Newcastle Falcons)
5 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, Captain)
6 Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)
7 Will Owen (Leicester Tigers)
8 James Chisholm (Harlequins)
16 Jack Innard (Exeter Chiefs)
17 Sebastian Adeniran-Olule (Harlequins)
18 Ciaran Parker (Sale Sharks)
19 Sam SkinnerÂ (Exeter Chiefs)
20 Charlie Beckett (Leicester Tigers)
21 James Mitchell (Sale Sharks)
22 Lloyd Evans (Gloucester)
23 Piers Oâ€™Conor (Wasps)
Tries: Perkins, Walker, Townsend x2, Morris x2, Howe, Skinner, Witty
Conversion: Jennings x 7
Yellow Card: Clark
Group A Standings: