Veteran Nick Easter and World Cup debutant Jack Nowell scored a hat-trick of tries apiece in England’s 60-3 hammering of Uruguay on Saturday.
However, the team were far from forgiven for their disastrous tournament which saw them become the first hosts to fail to reach the knockout stages.
There were more than 4,000 empty seats for their final Pool A game at the Manchester City ground and major doubts remain about the future of coach Stuart Lancaster after their calamitous exit.
Lancaster gave no indication about whether he has made up his mind to resign or wait to be pushed by the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
“It’s not my mind is it? There are a lot of other people who have got a say in it, I’m sure. It has been a tough week. I just wanted to get through the week and put in a good performance. We have done that so we will see what next week holds,” Lancaster said after the game.
Those who went to the match saw a reassuring performance with 10 tries and a chance for some of England’s new generation to stake a claim for places.
The 37-year-old Easter got the man-of-the match award for his three tries, most of which resulted from England’s total domination of the set pieces.
But Nowell’s classy runs and a try also on his debut for his Exeter teammate Henry Slade will have given hope for the long-term future.
The game started ominously for the English, conceding a penalty after just 90 seconds for offside which Felipe Berchesi slotted over.
But Nowell got the ball from a lineout in the seventh minute and kicked forward for Anthony Watson to gather and touch down before a chasing pack of Uruguyan players.
Watson could have been offside but referee Chris Pollock awarded England’s 1,500th Test match try.
– Hat-tricks –
Easter got his first touchdown in the 18th minute.
England won another lineout and the pack drove to the line where Easter forced his way over. His second try came five minutes later in similar circumstances and England started to motor ahead.
Watson got an easy try just after the break and Slade charged down a Uruguayan kick and rushed in to get his name on the sheet.
Nowell got his first from a smart Danny Care pass which put him free on the right wing. Care also pushed the England pack forward for Easter’s third try.
Nowell then got two tries in two minutes — the 10th score was a penalty try.
“Uruguay took a bit of breaking down but I thought we got there in the second half and scored some good tries,” said Lancaster.
“Overall I thought we put some good shapes together and our attack was creative, there were some good skills out there and there were some good tries.
“It has been a tough week for the players. They feel terrible … for not qualifying. But I thought the crowd were brilliant from the minute they got off the bus to the end of the game,” the coach declared.
“We knew we had to finish off on a high,” said Care.
“Obviously people are very disappointed that we didn’t get through to the quarter-finals – no more so than the players in that dressing room.
“But all we could was go out there and throw the ball around and try and enjoy it. I thought we did that tonight.”