Eddie Jones is hopeful England prop Mako Vunipola did not suffer a serious injury setback when his return to action was cut short against Ireland.

The Saracens front row was ruled out for three months with a hamstring problem in May, meaning he was playing for the first time since the injury on Saturday, a matter of weeks before the Rugby World Cup.

But Vunipola failed to finish the game after coming on as a replacement, prompting fears of a major issue ahead of the tournament in Japan.

Coach Jones was unsure of the extent of the problem but stayed optimistic after an impressive 57-15 win at Twickenham.

"He just felt his hamstring a little bit," Jones told Sky Sports. "We're not sure how serious it is. We're cautiously optimistic he'll be okay."

There was a moment of concern for Ireland, too, with Cian Healy hobbling off shortly before half-time after receiving treatment for an ankle problem.

And there was also a head injury assessment (HIA) for Conor Murray, who briefly came back on before being withdrawn.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was positive, though, saying: "Conor passed his HIA, he was fine.

"We had a bit of a breakdown in communication - I wasn't going to put him back on, so that was a slip-up on our behalf and we got him off.

"Cian's had an x-ray and the ankle is normal. He sprained it and was pretty uncomfortable. The good news is he did walk from the pitch, so hopefully that's a little bit of promise for us."

Rory Best admitted Ireland are "nowhere near" where they need to be just a month out from the Rugby World Cup after a humiliating defeat to England.

Ireland were subjected to a record defeat against England at Twickenham, Manu Tuilagi and Maro Itoje running the show while Joe Cokanasiga scored twice in a 57-15 home win.

The visitors had the opportunity to move to the top of the world rankings with victory but instead go into next week's match with number one side Wales reeling from an awful defeat.

Ireland were extremely sloppy, with their lineouts woeful, and captain Best acknowledged the need for considerable improvement in the coming weeks.

"We can be a lot better and we have to be a lot better," he told Sky Sports. "That is not up to the standard that we set ourselves.

"Quite frankly, it is hard to describe it without using a lot of profanity. We're going to have a look back at what went wrong. It will not be pleasant, but we're going to have to get better.

"We're nowhere near where we need to be and the only positive we can take from it is that it's the middle of August and not the middle of September. We need to improve significantly across the board."

Owen Farrell was understandably more upbeat about England's display – but promised there is still more to come ahead of the tournament in Japan.

He told Sky Sports: "We are still building. I think there is a lot left in us.

"We are still looking forward to playing our best rugby. That, for me, is very exciting.

"We are building. The most exciting thing is that we have got a lot of good rugby in front of us, hopefully, and we've got to make sure it keeps going that way."

England produced a stylish display to secure a record-breaking 57-15 home win over Ireland in their latest Rugby World Cup warm-up match, denying the visitors a place as world number one.

For the third consecutive week, England approached a warm-up knowing their opponents could move to the top of the rankings but, after beating and then losing to Wales, they ensured the Grand Slam champions remained at the summit by routing the Irish.

The second Wales match saw just a single try scored between the two sides, yet there were a pair inside 13 minutes of an entertaining and ultimately one-sided affair at Twickenham on Saturday.

England moved out of sight late in the first half, with Manu Tuilagi influential, and ran riot after the break to record their biggest score and margin of victory against Ireland.

Joe Schmidt's men have the opportunity to bounce back quickly against Wales next week but, in the meantime, the coach will hope for positive news on Cian Healy, who hobbled off late in the first half.

Mako Vunipola's withdrawal in the final minutes was similarly concerning for England.

Owen Farrell dispatched the game's first penalty in the seventh minute, having reclaimed kicking duties from George Ford, yet there was a setback before England clicked into gear.

Jacob Stockdale dashed through on the left but his chip down the line instead teed Jordan Larmour up for a simple try, the bounce evading recovering white shirts.

However, a superb move from left to right created space for Joe Cokanasiga to get in for an impressive response.

Ireland briefly led again with a sweet 35-metre penalty from Ross Byrne, but another sweeping passage of play, after Tuilagi drew attention in the centre of the field, saw Elliot Daly saunter over in the same right corner.

Tuilagi scored himself to further stretch England's advantage before half-time, exploiting a gap after a scrum at close range, before a fine home display continued into the second half and Maro Itoje, another impressive performer, tore a hole in the Ireland side after their latest poor lineout.

Ireland tired badly and there was no stopping the hosts, with George Kruis - later yellow-carded for a high challenge - profiting from a TMO review and then Kyle Sinckler and Sam Underhill combining beautifully for Tom Curry to score.

Cokanasiga continued his prolific start to life in England colours with a powerful second try, with Bundee Aki's late reply followed by further humiliation as Luke Cowan-Dickie lunged over directly from another lineout.

England produced a stylish display to secure a record-breaking 57-15 home win over Ireland in their latest Rugby World Cup warm-up match, denying the visitors a place as world number one.

For the third consecutive week, England approached a warm-up knowing their opponents could move to the top of the rankings but, after beating and then losing to Wales, they ensured the Grand Slam champions remained at the summit by routing the Irish.

The second Wales match saw just a single try scored between the two sides, yet there were a pair inside 13 minutes of an entertaining and ultimately one-sided affair at Twickenham on Saturday.

England moved out of sight late in the first half, with Manu Tuilagi influential, and ran riot after the break to record their biggest score and margin of victory against Ireland.

Joe Schmidt's men have the opportunity to bounce back quickly against Wales next week but, in the meantime, the coach will hope for positive news on Cian Healy, who hobbled off late in the first half.

Mako Vunipola's withdrawal in the final minutes was similarly concerning for England.

Owen Farrell dispatched the game's first penalty in the seventh minute, having reclaimed kicking duties from George Ford, yet there was a setback before England clicked into gear.

Jacob Stockdale dashed through on the left but his chip down the line instead teed Jordan Larmour up for a simple try, the bounce evading recovering white shirts, and Ross Byrne added the extras.

However, a superb move from left to right created space for Joe Cokanasiga to get in for an impressive response.

Ireland briefly led again with a sweet 35-metre penalty from Byrne, but another sweeping passage of play, after Tuilagi drew attention in the centre of the field, saw Elliot Daly saunter over in the same right corner.

Tuilagi scored himself to further stretch England's advantage before half-time, exploiting a gap after a scrum at close range, before a fine England display continued into the second half and Maro Itoje, another impressive performer, tore a hole in the Ireland side after their latest poor lineout.

Ireland tired badly and there was no stopping the hosts, with George Kruis - later yellow-carded for a high challenge - profiting from a TMO review and then Kyle Sinckler and Sam Underhill combining beautifully for Tom Curry to score.

Cokanasiga continued his prolific start to life in England colours with a powerful second try, with Bundee Aki's late reply followed by further humiliation as Luke Cowan-Dickie lunged over directly from another lineout.

Jim Mallinder has left his England role for an opportunity with Scotland that he said was too good to turn down.

Mallinder joined the Rugby Football Union (RFU) as the performance pathway coach in June 2018 and was tipped as a potential replacement for Eddie Jones when the England coach's contract expires in 2021.

However, on Friday he was named as Scottish Rugby's new performance director after Scott Johnson left for Australia in April.

Mallinder led Northampton Saints to the final of the European Champions Cup in 2011 and to Premiership glory three years later.

The former Sale Sharks and England Saxons coach also oversaw an England XV in a 51-43 success against the Barbarians at Twickenham in June.

"I'm sad to be leaving the RFU as I've really enjoyed my time here, in particular getting to work with some fantastic people in a wide range of roles within the men's pathway. I will miss working with them all but this was an opportunity that I couldn't refuse," said Mallinder.

"It's a chance to lead a long-term programme, work with talented people, and I'm looking forward to moving up to Scotland and getting started."

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said: "I am delighted to have secured Jim in what is a pivotal and vital role within our high-performance structure.

"He has a proven track record of developing players across a range of different career stages and I want him to strengthen and deepen the pathway our players will take into the professional game and develop the skills and behaviours they will need to succeed at their respective highest levels."

Australia captain Michael Hooper expects David Pocock to be "dominant" upon his return from injury at the Rugby World Cup.

Pocock has been out of action since March due to a calf problem and was not passed fit for the humbling 36-0 Bledisloe Cup Test defeat against New Zealand in Perth on August 17.

However, head coach Michael Cheika on Friday included the experienced flanker in his 31-man squad for the upcoming tournament in Japan.

Hooper and Pocock formed a formidable back-row partnership dubbed as 'Pooper' at the 2015 World Cup and the captain is pleased they have been reunited.

"I love playing with Dave and what he's bringing to the squad," said Hooper.

"Because he hasn't been on the field lately he's actually upped his stuff in a different way, how he can contribute, how he can impact the group off the field and it's been really noticeable.

"To have that going on and then he's imminent to get on the field and play some good minutes now.

"He's going to do us no surprise when he comes back. The guy's physically in fantastic shape. I imagine when he hits the ground running he's going to be dominant again."

Hooper and Pocock started games together despite both being openside flankers and Cheika was unwilling to confirm if he will return to using them in tandem.

"That's the decision to make isn't it. Michael [Hooper]'s the captain so it's either them together or we make the decision that one plays one game and one plays another," Cheika said.

"We'll just prepare for the Fiji game, see what's the best combination for that game and we'll go from there."

Australia face Samoa in a warm-up match on September 7 before beginning their World Cup campaign against Fiji in Sapporo two weeks later.

Uncapped rookie Jordan Petaia has been included in Australia's 31-man squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Petaia missed most of the Super Rugby season due to a Lisfranc injury but the exciting 19-year-old back is set to feature at the World Cup, which gets underway on September 20.

The Reds sensation was set to make his debut against Italy last year, however, a hamstring injury delayed his international bow for 2015 World Cup runners-up the Wallabies.

Now, Petaia – the only uncapped player in Michael Cheika's squad – is poised to become the youngest World Cup player in Australia history.

There are not too many surprises in the Wallabies team, though Cheika opted to select just two half-backs in Will Genia and Nic White, with Joe Powell left out and giant lock Will Skelton not on the list.

"We've become a really tight group and it was a very difficult process in picking only 31 players, but I know each player selected will travel to Japan with the full support of those team-mates who won't board the flight," said Cheika, who included Powell, Tom Banks, Liam Wright, Luke Jones and Tatafu Polota-Nau as extended members for the team's pre-World Cup camp and Test against Samoa.

"We have worked really hard at building each week and each game so far this season and play a brand of Rugby that Australia would be proud of and get every player contributing towards the outcome.

"It's also important that we select a squad that will handle the tournament play and our draw in particular at the Rugby World Cup, as well as maintain a strong competition for places in the team.

"These next few weeks are about building and adding that little extra edge as a squad and we'll be working hard to make sure we deliver on the qualities we want people to see when we run out on the field in Japan.

"We have five extra train-on members coming with us to New Caledonia and then we'll return to take on Samoa, who we have had great clashes with in the past."

Australia will face Samoa in Sydney on September 7 before kicking off their World Cup campaign against Fiji on September 21.

The Wallabies are also scheduled to meet Wales (September 29), Uruguay (October 5) and Georgia (October 11) in Pool D.

 

Australia's 31-man Rugby World Cup squad in full:

Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga'a, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese.

Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, James O'Connor, Jordan Petaia, Matt To'omua, Nic White.

Owen Farrell and George Ford will start while Mako Vunipola has been named among the replacements for England's Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Ireland.

Captain Farrell will shift to inside centre and make up a midfield pairing with Manu Tuilagi to accommodate fly-half Ford at Twickenham on Saturday.

Farrell and Ford will be in the same starting line-up for the first time in over a year in England's last match before flying out for the tournament in Japan.

Prop Vunipola is set to feature off the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury, while fit-again duo Tom Curry and Sam Underhill have been included in the back row.

Jonny May comes back in on the left wing, with Joe Cokanasiga moving to the other flank and Eddie Jones has gone with Jamie George, Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler in the front row.

Jones said: "The players have come back in a very good physical and mental state and we have had a good preparation this week. We purposefully made the week short looking ahead to the World Cup where this might happen beyond our control.
 
"It is the third of four games for us and come September 8, when we get on the plane, we want to be ready to go. This is another step forward for us.
 
"This weekend we will be looking to gain more game fitness and testing different sorts of game strategies. We have a specific way of how we want to play and the focus is very much on ourselves."

 

England: Elliot Daly, Joe Cokanasiga, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements:  Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Mark Wilson, Willi Heinz, Piers Francis, Jonathan Joseph.

Johnny Sexton will miss Ireland's Rugby World Cup warm-up match against England on Saturday.

The Leinster fly-half has been struggling with a thumb issue and has been left out of Joe Schmidt's team for the match at Twickenham.

With Joey Carbery absent due to an ankle problem, Ross Byrne will make his first Test start and hope to stake his claim for World Cup selection.

Schmidt has made 12 changes from the team that beat Italy 29-10 on August 10, with Rory Best returning to captain the side and Cian Healy joining him in the front row for his 90th cap.

Peter O'Mahony, CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier team up in the back row, while Conor Murray, Jacob Stockdale, Bundee Aki and Rob Kearney return in the backs.

Ireland XV: Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Ross Byrne, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Jean Kleyn, Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Tadhg Beirne, Luke McGrath, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway.

France stormed to a dominant 32-3 victory against an over-matched Scotland to launch their Rugby World Cup preparations in emphatic style.

Jacques Brunel's side beat Scotland 27-10 in this season's Six Nations and this was an even more sapping experience for their visitors in Nice.

The damage was done by first-half tries from Alivereti Raka, Maxime Medard and Gregory Alldritt, with Medard adding a second before Antoine Dupont went over with an hour played.

Gregor Townsend's men host the same opponents next weekend at Murrayfield, where they will need to make a better start than the botched line-out that allowed Raka to gleefully charge over on the end of Wesley Fofana's second-minute pass.

Medard touched down in the corner to make it 15-0, Camille Lopez having dispatched his initial attempts from the tee.

Adam Hastings kicked Scotland's solitary points but was in the sin-bin when the France pack obliterated their opponents in a rolling maul, with Alldritt the beneficiary.

Francois Cros was the latest home player to tear through Scotland's meagre defensive efforts in the 54th minute, allowing Medard a gleeful run to the line.

Dupont benefitted from Damian Penaud's mazy run, with Lopez adding the extras before France eased to the close, giving Townsend plenty to think about before the sides reconvene in Edinburgh.

Sbu Nkosi produced two flashes of brilliance as South Africa ground out a 24-18 victory over Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks wing dashed over for a pair of silky tries that were out of keeping with the quality in the rest of the contest, with only a late disallowed score denying Argentina a famous win.

South Africa, who start their Rugby World Cup campaign against holders New Zealand on September 21, caused a surprise by winning the recent Rugby Championship ahead of the All Blacks, Australia and Saturday's opponents.

This was their final home Test before going for global glory in Japan, and it was a tough contest, with coach Rassie Erasmus seeing his side given plenty of trouble by the Pumas.

His Boks had won 46-13 in Salta when they travelled to Argentina for last weekend's Rugby Championship finale, but this never looked like being a similarly one-sided match.

Led by hooker Schalk Brits, who at 38 years and three months became South Africa's oldest first-time captain, South Africa were often sluggish 

Elton Jantjies booted South Africa ahead in the 18th minute but Argentina responded in kind through Joaquin Diaz Bonilla.

Nkosi skipped in down the right for his first try, with a stylish shuffle of his feet before darting for the line. Jantjies rattled the post with the conversion attempt.

Argentina hit back right at the end of the half with an interception try, Guido Petti seizing on a loose pass from Cobus Reinach to run in from halfway. Diaz Bonilla added the extras and the Pumas held a 10-8 half-time lead.

Nkosi produced a sparkling run and dived over for his second try, taking the aerial route to avoid a last-ditch Pumas tackle.

But there was plenty of mileage left in the contest, with Diaz Bonilla and Jantjies exchanging penalties before Pablo Matera pounced for a try from a line-out by the Boks line.

Jantjies kicked another penalty to nudge the hosts 21-18 in front yet Argentina looked to have won it when Lucas Mensa charged through to dot down late on.

An earlier obstruction on Vincent Koch resulted in the try being disallowed, to South Africa's relief, and Jantjies added the resulting penalty to secure a narrow win.

Australia coach Michael Cheika told his players to "suck it up" and move on to the next challenge after being thrashed 36-0 by New Zealand in Auckland.

With the Rugby World Cup getting under way in five weeks' time, there is little time for the Wallabies to stew and consider what might have been, after again failing to get their hands on the Bledisloe Cup.

They have not won at Eden Park since 1986 or claimed the Bledisloe Cup since 2002, and, aside from a spell early in the game when they were camped by the New Zealand line, Australia never looked like troubling the All Blacks.

Cheika, who admitted to being "terribly disappointed", nevertheless urged his team to "be resilient" following the heavy loss.

And he said they must not allow their plans for the more important quest in Japan to be knocked off track.

"You're going to be sad and disappointed but suck it up and get ready for the next one," said Cheika. "And build into the World Cup just how we've always planned to."

New Zealand made a raft of changes after their 47-26 to Australia a week earlier in Perth, and those paid off handsomely as they raided the Wallabies for five tries.

The teams could yet meet again at the World Cup, and Cheika will not lose sight of the fact Australia were better than their trans-Tasman rivals on home soil.

He added: "We've improved a lot since 2018 - on the field and off the field - and we have to take it on the chin.

"If you'd asked me how I was feeling yesterday or before the game, I was feeling really good about the improvements we'd made.

"And as terribly disappointed as I am about the game, I'm not going to throw them away, I'm going to put them into context."

Cheika is due to name his 31-man squad for the World Cup on Friday and said he would not rush to judge the team on the Eden Park performance.

He said, according to the Wallabies' website: "We just wanted all the games to play out and then we'll sit down early in the week and get it done."

Wales moved to the top of the world rankings for the first time in their history with a 13-6 win over England in Cardiff.

Eddie Jones' side denied the Grand Slam winners that distinction with a 33-19 victory at Twickenham last weekend but that result was avenged during a largely uneventful pre-World Cup encounter.

George North scored the only try as Dan Biggar proved instrumental to Wales' win – a timely answer to the criticism from former Wales and British and Irish Lions great JJ Williams this week, who said his country would not win the World Cup with the Northampton Saints man at fly-half in the wake of Gareth Anscombe's cruciate knee ligament injury.

All the points acquired by an experimental England line-up came from George Ford's boot, with Ireland awaiting Jones' men next weekend.

An error-strewn opening from both sides contributed to there being no score until the 26th minute, with Biggar slotting over a close-range penalty after England crept offside at the end of a rumbling 13-phase move.

Wales' number 10 was integral to the sole try of the match, stabbing a quick penalty out to Josh Adams following Anthony Watson's yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.

England were unable to reset and another superb Biggar kick switched play to the left for North to touch down.

Watson returned from the sinbin at the start of the second half, as did scrum-half Willi Heinz after getting the all-clear from a head-injury assessment, and the visitors resumed on the front foot – a quickfire pair of Ford penalties trimming the deficit.

Leigh Halfpenny, who was a late inclusion at full-back after Liam Williams withdrew due to a tight hamstring in the warm-up, was off-target with an attempt from halfway.

Watson was hauled down six metres from the line as a blistering England attack own the right had Wales scrambling – Biggar's huge hit on Maro Itoje preceding an offside call in the hosts' favour.

Five minutes from time a successful Halfpenny long-ranger closed out victory and knocked New Zealand off the top of the World Rugby standings, despite the All Blacks' 36-0 routing of Australia to seal the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park earlier on Saturday.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read saluted his team-mates after they retained the Bledisloe Cup with a clinical 36-0 win over Australia at Eden Park.

The world champions scored five tries without reply, as New Zealand made amends for last weekend's 47-26 defeat to the Wallabies in Perth.

Sonny Bill Williams, Sevu Reece and George Bridge were promoted to the starting XV and each scored a try, as Steve Hansen's 100th match in charge proved one to savour.

Read said: "It feels fantastic. A lot's been said all week and the guys really fronted. So, I'm so happy. It's a trophy that we cherish. I know the Wallabies do as well.

"We both really love playing for this cup and it showed in these two matches.

"I don't think you can expect to have a result like that, but it comes through hard work.

"The team truly believes in each other and that's what we're going to need moving forward."

His opposite number, Michael Hooper, had high hopes of becoming the first Australia skipper in 17 years to get to grips with the Bledisloe Cup trophy.

But Read it was who joyously lifted the silverware in Auckland, leaving Hooper to reflect on where the second game in the series went wrong for Australia.

Hooper said on Sky Sports: "The turnaround in seven days... they dominated all bar a few minutes of that game in all areas, they were really good at the scrum, lineout, so hats off to them.

"Our boys, we threw everything we had at them the whole game, probably let it get too far away in the end there.

"We've got a lot of heart, a lot of heart to come down here. We've had a really good week, unfortunately it didn't show out there tonight.

"But we'll rebuild. We're still rebuilding and gaining momentum.

"We'll have a couple of days off, it's going to take a toll on our bodies. We'll get back together, regroup, and see what we can learn from this game and build and get better."

Picked off in Perth, but awesome in Auckland, the All Blacks restored normal order in their Bledisloe Cup rivalry as they crushed Australia 36-0 at Eden Park.

Embarrassed by last weekend's 47-26 defeat to their trans-Tasman rivals, Steve Hansen's New Zealand restored national pride and retained their trophy with a ruthless win.

Hansen made changes, after accusing his players of producing "dumb footy" at Optus Stadium, where they lost Scott Barrett to a controversial red card.

Into the pack came Nepo Laulala and Patrick Tuipulotu, with the backs given a shuffle with the inclusion of George Bridge, Sonny Bill Williams and Sevu Reece.

Williams crossed for New Zealand's third try early in the second half, after scores from Richie Mo'unga and Aaron Smith had put the hosts firmly in control, and Reece bolted through for the fourth in the 67th minute - his first for the All Blacks.

Bridge applied the finishing touches with the fifth try in the 77th minute. The changes worked for Hansen, to put it mildly.

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