England Sign Off In Rugby World With Win Over Uruguay

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England finished the 2015 Rugby World Cup as they started it, but Saturday's 60-3 bonus-point win over Uruguay will have done little to alter whatever fate awaits coach Stuart Lancaster.

Last weekend's chastening 33-13 defeat to Australia ensured England became the first host nation to be eliminated at the group stage in tournament history, the opening-day triumph against Fiji proving a false dawn.

Lancaster's side - which was more youthful after eight changes from that Twickenham rout - did at least sign off with a victory in Pool A, but the quality of the opposition made that a mere formality.

Veteran Nick Easter scored a hat-trick, as did Jack Nowell, while Anthony Watson touched down twice and Henry Slade also crossed, but this was no celebratory occasion and still England looked short of the mark.

The inquest into Lancaster's future - and that of English rugby as a whole - is already well underway, but will intensify now as the home nation assumes the role of passive spectator.

England headed north for their tournament farewell, a packed Etihad Stadium playing host to a match that bore no relevance on qualifying for the knockout phase.

The unfamiliar setting may well have been a blessing, given the painful recent experience of losses to Wales and the Wallabies at Twickenham, and the fans in Manchester were treated to a high-scoring display.

Uruguay suffered the backlash from those results as England made their superiority in all departments count.

The South Americans led early on courtesy of Felipe Berchesi's penalty, but the hosts were 21-3 ahead by the break.

Watson showed excellent speed to touch down amid suspicions of offside after Nowell's well-judged kick over the top, while 37-year-old Easter - who was doing punditry work when the tournament began - twice provided the finish after close-range drives, with Owen Farrell adding the extras each time.

Santiago Vilaseca's sin-binning late in the half made Uruguay's task even tougher and England made it count after the restart, Watson finishing a sweeping move in the corner.

Sloppy play still reared its ugly head for England, most notably when James Haskell fumbled as space opened up before him, though young centre Slade - on only his second appearance - showed greater composure with his punt and chase that led to a fifth try in the 54th minute.

Nowell got two tries either side of Easter's third and then proceeded to match his team-mate's treble feat with six minutes remaining, while a penalty try at the death completed the rout.

The home side's efforts drew warm applause at the full-time whistle, but whether it will still be Lancaster's England the next time they run out remains to be seen.


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