Fiji 11 England 35: Room for improvement for Norfolk boys Ben and Tom Youngs
- Credit: PA
England stuttered their way to a 35-11 win over Fiji on the opening night of the Rugby World Cup – and sports reporter David Freezer was there to follow the fortunes of Norfolk brothers Ben and Tom Youngs.
England will be pleased to have the pressure of opening night off their shoulders, as Ben Youngs may well do as well.
The Norfolk-born star was short of his best, although by no means near his worst either, as he earned his 50th cap for England in the first match of the Rugby World Cup on home soil.
Elder brother Tom enjoyed a brighter night at hooker, with successful throws from six of his seven lineouts.
The presence of former Leicester team-mate Geoff Parling was evident at the lineout – but so was the amount of work Tom got through.
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When replaced by Rob Webber in the 74th minute the 28-year-old looked dead on his feet, after ploughing through a huge amount of work in the loose.
His younger brother used him well early in the second half as England battled to get control of the game, chucking him low ball to cannonball his way into Fiji bodies.
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The scrum was also, on the whole, better than it had been in the warm-up games, against a spirited Fiji effort and Tom will have been pleased with a decent night's work.
Ben's night started nervously after the kick-off skidded in front of him but he dealt, just about, with a few scrappy moments in the first half.
Two box-kicks created worrying moments late in the first half, one not finding touch and the other being charged down and leading to a kicked penalty.
The pressure of such a big night seemed to prompt a reserved performance from the 26-year-old and he will be looking to show more attacking energy next weekend against Wales.
Richard Wigglesworth looked bright against tired opponents after replacing Ben in the 52nd minute but the former Holt and North Walsham junior player should still retain his starting spot.
The brothers, like all the England players, will probably be pleased to have just made it through the opening night unscathed and victorious.
Both will feel they are capable of much more though and will look to put their big-match experience to full use at Twickenham next Saturday.
Better and more difficult times are ahead for both of our Norfolk boys.