|England: (26) 40|
|Tries: Willis, George 3, Daly, Robson; Cons: Farrell 5|
|Georgia: (0) 0|
Hooker Jamie George’s hat-trick helped England to a comfortable six-try victory against Georgia in their first match at Twickenham since March.
Flanker Jack Willis opened the scoring in a dream start to his debut, before George went over twice in mauls.
Elliot Daly added a fourth before half-time after an impressive break in midfield from Jonathan Joseph.
George completed his hat-trick with a replica of his first two scores before Dan Robson darted over.
England are now top of their Autumn Nations Cup pool and have two more group games against Ireland and Wales before facing a yet-to-be-determined opponent from Pool B to decide final placings.
Disciplined England claim first-half bonus point
England had not played at Twickenham since their Six Nations defeat of Wales eight months ago, before coronavirus brought rugby to a standstill.
With the stands empty, all the pressure was on the players to give an entertaining performance to make up for the lack of atmosphere in South-West London.
So it looked promising when captain Owen Farrell sent a cross-field kick to Jonny May, but the wing knocked it on to miss out on the chance of an early score.
The Georgians held off England heroically, rewarded with cheers from their replacements’ bench rather than 80,000 at Twickenham, but Willis finally found his way across after 15 minutes.
The 23-year-old’s first cap had been given plenty of column inches before the match and he completed the perfect debut narrative as he drove his legs, twisted and turned to make his way across the tryline.
A lack of fans was not the only change at Twickenham. English rugby edged its way into the 21st century as recent number one Head & Heart played out to celebrate the try, with the usual Sweet Caroline soundtrack absent.
England’s backline stalled as Georgia continued to put up a good fight, but George eventually crossed at the back of a maul after an England line-out in the corner.
Head coach Eddie Jones had spoken all week about England’s tactical discipline being more important than fireworks against their tier-two opponents and his side continued to do the basics right.
The third try mirrored the second as the maul rolled on and George crossed again.
Things took a more exciting turn as Joseph, on the wing for the day but told he had free rein going into the game, broke through in the midfield.
He sent the ball right and Daly was at the end of the line to sprint over for his score. That was Joseph’s final play of the match as he limped off and was replaced by Joe Marchant.
Rain slows hosts’ second-half progress
The wind picked up during half-time and rain began to fall, dampening England’s momentum.
Willis’ debut, which he had been waiting for since injury stole his chance before the South Africa tour in 2018, came to an early end when he was replaced by Ben Earl in the 47th minute.
With little happening for the hosts on the pitch, Jones continued to work through his bench as props Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler came on for Ellis Genge and Will Stuart.
Some life was breathed into the match as Georgia were given their best chance of the match thanks to a kick out on the full from Daly.
The Eastern Europeans kicked to the corner but their maul was stopped by Charlie Ewels and England were soon back down the other end.
Again, they went to the tried and tested George method and the hooker went over again, capitalising on the power of his fellow forwards in a carbon-copy of his first two scores.
England continued to build pressure and Robson picked the ball up from a ruck and sniped through two tackles to cross for England’s sixth and final try.
Shortly after, Robson opted to kick the ball out rather than play on as the clock went red and The Greatest Showman theme tune rang out as the Twickenham DJ signalled their approval of the home side’s performance.
Man of the match: Jamie George
‘You can’t give it the big one after maul tries’ – what they said
England hooker Jamie George, speaking to Amazon Prime: “It was a great team performance. Most pleasing for me was forwards-wise we stepped up to the plate.
“It’s something we pride ourselves on. We are back here at Twickenham, missing the crowd massively, but we constantly try to push it with our set-piece so it was great to get over the line.
“You can’t give it the big one after maul tries! I was happy keeping it low key.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, England head coach Eddie Jones said: “Georgia obviously came out and wanted to play a certain way, and we wanted to prove a point that they wouldn’t be able to out-scrum us.
“When you play in these conditions it is enormously important and if you get an opportunity to keep the ball, it’s a way of scoring tries.
“Ireland will come here with a plan. The last few games we have probably had the edge so they will be motivated to change that.”
England debutant Jack Willis told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It is something I have dreamed of since I was a young lad. To get this opportunity is something I will always be grateful for.
“Eddie has been great since I have been in camp and this is a group that is building. I’m lucky to be a part of it. I loved every second of it and hopefully I can get another chance soon.
“There are some incredible players in the back row and it’s a job for me to try and break into that group.”
‘Georgia lacked creativity and strategy’- analysis
Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson on BBC Radio 5 Live
Georgia stood up to England as best they could, but they did not have the creativity, strategy or gameplan to take England on.
The contrast next week is that Ireland will match England up front for longer.
There will be parity for longer than Georgia provided so the emphasis will be on the backline to back up the work of the forwards.
- Jamie George is the first England men’s hooker to score a hat-trick
- The last time England won at Twickenham without conceding a point was when they beat Canada 70-0 in 2004
- England have won 26 of their last 29 games in England, drawn one and lost two
- Jack Willis is the first England forward to score on debut since Billy Vunipola against Argentina in 2013
England: Daly; Joseph, Lawrence, Slade, May; Farrell (capt), Youngs; Genge, George, Stuart; Launchbury, Ewels; Itoje, Willis, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Marchant for Joseph (38), Earl for Willis (46), M Vunipola for Genge (47), Sinckler for Stuart (47), Robson for Youngs (61), Malins for Lawrence (61), Dunn for George (64), Curry for Ewels (64).
Georgia: Khmaladze; Tabutsadze, Kveseladze, Sharikadze (capt), Svanidze; Abzhandadze, Aprasidze; Nariashvili, Mamukashvili, Gigashvili; Jaiani, Kerdikoshvili; Saginadze, Tkhilaishvili, Gorgadze.
Replacements: Gogichashvili for Nariashvili (46), Bregvadze for Mamukashvili (46), Kaulashvili for Gigashvili (59), Giorgadze for Gorgadze (59), Javakhia for Kerdikoshvili (64), Lobzhanidze for Aprasidze (65), Jalaghonia for Tkhilaishvili (72), Todua for Svanidze (79).
|14 November: England v Georgia, 15:00 GMT at Twickenham|
|21 November: England v Ireland, 15:00 GMT at Twickenham|
|28 November: Wales v England, 16:00 GMT at Parc y Scarlets|
|6 December: Finals weekend – England v TBD, 14:00 GMT at Twickenham|