On-pitch drama, off-pitch delight! Venatour at Rugby World Cup 2019™ – Week 2 | #TravelTuesday

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Week two of Rugby World Cup 2019™ has seen thrills, spills and huge upsets.

Fiji fell to Uruguay, Ireland were outplayed by Japan, and Wales won the narrowest of matches against Australia.

England managed to surpass a potential banana skin with a comprehensive victory over a spirited USA side, with George Ford impressing in the fly-half role.

After the impressive win, our secret tourist shared their match report:

England’s victory in Kobe was a distinct improvement on the Tonga game last Sunday. There were far fewer handling errors (though still too many) and they looked much more comfortable running through the phases. They made the USA look poor for most of the match. Tonga v USA on Sunday 13th will be an interesting game.

Kobe is a busy port city next door to Osaka with a population of c.1.4 million. It’s not a touristy place despite having a spectacular waterfront and attractive mountains behind. Apart from being the leading place for brewing sake, it is most famous for its beef. I’m pleased to report that my rump steak didn’t disappoint.

Eddie chose a team that gave everyone who is fit a chance for pitch time, so he was able to rest Itoje, Tuilagi, May and George. As a result, the starting line-up looked like his B team, so he was taking a risk. The game began ominously for England as Cokanasiga dropped his first pass and Billy Vunipola, of all people, was turned over in the tackle. But things quickly changed from the first scrum where it was clear the USA would be in trouble. Within 5 minutes George Ford ghosted over under the posts as the US expected him to pass to the bigger men. England continued to build pressure without being able to score. The referee seemed to be helping the underdog at times but eventually the penalty count swung in England’s favour because of the pressure they were exerting on their opponents. England spurned penalty kicking opportunities and two tries resulted from close range lineouts, the first touched down by Billy Vunipola and the second by Cowan-Dickie but both were great drives by all the forwards. The half time score was 19-0 because George Ford failed to convert the 3rd try.

The second half continued in similar vein despite Eddie quickly emptying his bench. Notably Wilson came on for Billy Vunipola so giving him a well-earned rest. With 47 minutes on the clock, Cokanasiga scored his first after being put through by Joseph (who played all 80 minutes and was a handful throughout). Ford missed the conversion, but England still had their bonus point for try 4. New boy McConnochie scored on 58 minutes, finishing off a move from a Ben Youngs quickly tapped penalty. He was almost immediately replaced by Antony Watson who was much more threatening. Ludlam, who again had an excellent game, scored England’s best try of the game on 67 minutes following a number of phases of play where Ford and Curry created the opening. On 69 minutes, the US flanker Quill was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Farrell. The incident had a farcical element to it because Farrell had just knocked-on so the USA were going to get an attacking scrum on England’s 22; instead England got a penalty so could clear for another attack. Ellis Genge on at loose head made a great break up the blind side and Cokanasiga was in to support to score his second on 75 minutes. The game began to get more open and on the last play of the match, the US got a consolation converted try after play had swept up and down the pitch. It was disappointing that England just failed to keep a clean sheet particularly as the US had not looked like scoring before, having had few attacking ideas all game.

A brief word on Sake. We visited a brewery on Wednesday. The process is more similar to making beer than distilling. The typical alcoholic strength is 15% so similar to strong-ish wine. I find it difficult to distinguish the quality, which is primarily measured in the proportion of the ‘moromi’ mash pressed into the sake; the lower the percentage the better. I should also report that I’ve not consumed that much (yet)!

My tour party is currently in Kyoto for the weekend before going to Hiroshima and Hakone during next week. We then travel to Tokyo on Friday ready for Saturday’s encounter with Argentina. A win then will ensure England qualify, to face either Australia or Wales in the quarter finals.

Whilst Venatour’s English contingent enjoyed visiting Kobe and Kyoto, Welsh fans stayed in Tokyo for their crunch match against Australia.

See below for the gallery of Venatour’s second week at Rugby World Cup 2019™.

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