Unusual role thrust onto George Furbank in England's win over Tonga

Huntingdon's George Furbank was thrown in at the deep end as England played Tonga replacing skipper Owen Farrell.

Huntingdon's George Furbank was thrown in at the deep end as England played Tonga - replacing the COVID-stricken captain Owen Farrell. - Credit: ADAM DAVY/PA

Huntingdon's George Furbank was thrown in at the deep end as England skipper Owen Farrell was ruled out of the win over Tonga in bizarre circumstances.

The Northampton Saint, usually employed at full-back, was announced at fly-half 90 minutes before kick-off in the 69-3 win at Twickenham after Farrell tested positive for COVID-19.

This proved to be a false-positive and although decisions later with Public Health England cleared the Saracens man to return to the squad, it came too late for Saturday's game.

Furbank though handled himself well, as did Marcus Smith when he replaced him in the final quarter, and the pair drew praise from head coach Eddie Jones.

He said: "[The COVID test] didn't knock us off our stride but it was a distraction that we dealt with well. It was challenging.

"It was a difficult game for those two guys because the bulk of training at 10 has been done by Owen in the last two weeks,.

"They both acquitted themselves well and we are really pleased with their progress."

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His old club Huntingdon & District lost 24-16 away to Dunstablians while St Neots were without a game.

St Ives meanwhile won a bonus point with a battling second-half performance at Wellingborough.

They had trailed 43-5 at the break but won the second half, scoring three valuable tries to pick up the valuable one-point bonus for four tries in the 55-22 loss.

It will start hurt the Bulls though, who were just a few points adrift of their hosts at the start of play, but with another pair of young debutants, 18-year-olds Luke Basham and Jobey Wadd, included in their side, there was still positives.

Errors and turnovers proved costly in the first half but after a break by Paul Ashbridge, a big pass from Josh Dear got out to Mikey Brennan via Mitch Newman and he worked hard to pump the legs and get across the line for the first Ives try.

The second came from running the ball from a penalty, Ashbridge again making the break and slick hands by Cullan Smy gave Wadd his dream score.

Ashbridge got the third, Matt Wood and Wadd combining to put him under the posts and allowing him to convert his own try.

And Brennan was able to run in his second and the all-important fourth for Ives.

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