England shrugged off Owen Farrell’s late coronavirus withdrawal as they hammered Tonga 69-3 in their Autumn Nations Series opener at Twickenham on Saturday.
Ben Youngs, Jamie George and Jonny May grabbed two tries apiece with further scores for Adam Radwan, Maro Itoje, Marcus Smith, Jamie Blamire and Alex Mitchell.
Eddie Jones’s new-look squad have showpiece Tests to come against Australia and South Africa as the Australian coach plans ahead for the 2023 World Cup in France.
England’s build-up was disrupted when captain Farrell was ruled out because of a positive test for Covid-19, with George Furbank replacing him at fly-half at short notice.
Head coach Jones shook up his squad after England’s disappointing 2021 Six Nations, with veterans George Ford and Billy and Mako Vunipola omitted in the drive to blood new talent.
But injuries meant the starting line-up featured nine players who lost the 2019 World Cup final against South Africa.
England, who face Jones’s former team Australia on November 13 before taking on the world champion Springboks a week later, turned on the style in an 11-try performance.
Radwan opened the scoring in the corner in the third minute for his fourth try in two Tests after notching a debut hat-trick against Canada in July.
England’s relentless pressure forced more penalties and bore fruit as a rolling maul from a line-out in the visitors’ 22 led to George forcing his way over.
Sonatane Takulua converted a penalty to open Tonga’s account in the 19th minute but it was a brief interruption of England’s domination.
May went over in the 28th minute as England worked the ball from right to left after Manu Tuilagi pierced Tonga’s defence.
The Sea Eagles have endured a difficult 2021, with many of their players unavailable earlier this year due to Covid-related travel restrictions. Their task became harder when Solomone Kata was sin-binned for taking out May in the air.
Itoje punished the under-strength Tongans after Ellis Genge broke through more weak tackles.
England grabbed a fifth try just before half-time as Youngs broke from a rolling maul and evaded Takulua.
No sooner had Kata returned after the interval than Walter Fifita was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on. Youngs made Tonga pay, stealing the ball from a scrum and streaking clear for his second score of the game.
May grabbed a second try in the 60th minute before referee Craig Evans sent off Viliami Fine for an elbow into Marcus Smith’s face.
Four late England tries followed as the floodgates opened in the rain, with George scoring another try following a rolling maul.
Slade turned on the style by piercing the demoralised Tongan defence and setting up substitute Smith.
Jamie Blamire added the 10th score before Mitchell scored a debut try just before full-time.