|England (21) 60|
|Tries: Watson 2, Easter 3, Slade, Nowell 3, penalty Cons: Farrell 4, Ford|
|Uruguay (3) 3|
England’s doomed World Cup campaign ended with a few fireworks as they ran in 10 tries to complete an ultimately hollow final victory.
Successive defeats by Wales and Australia had already ensured England would be the first hosts to go out of the tournament at the group stage.
Nick Easter, 37, and Jack Nowell scored hat-tricks against a Uruguay side with only four professional players.
Anthony Watson grabbed a well-finished brace, while Henry Slade also crossed.
What might have been…
This was not how it was supposed to end for Stuart Lancaster’s men, in a meaningless contest which saw the crowd frequently make their own entertainment with Mexican waves and paper aeroplanes aimed at the pitch.
With the Super League Grand Final – held a few miles west – coming to a thrilling conclusion just before kick-off, this was not even the biggest rugby match in the city on Saturday.
The bonus point picked up for scoring four or more tries also meant that had England drawn against Wales a fortnight ago – and with a penalty within Owen Farrell’s range with three minutes to go they had had the chance – they would have gone into the quarter-finals as Group A’s runners-up.
Instead their tournament is over, Lancaster left hoping he will be given the chance to rebuild the team around the core of younger players like the impressive Watson and Slade.
Ten tries for fans to cheer
After shipping an early penalty, England worked a neat opening try when Watson accelerated on to Nowell’s kick ahead and veteran Easter – who became the oldest player in Test history to score a hat-trick – drove over from a line-out to make it 15-3 after a somewhat messy first quarter.
Easter added his second when he picked up from the base of a ruck and smashed over again from a few yards out after a sniping break from Danny Care.
Watson stretched the lead to 26-3 after capitalising on quick hands from Care and full-back Alex Goode to escape down the right but, with Uruguay down to 14 men after the sin-binning of Santiago Vilaseca, England struggled to make both numbers and experience count.
Slade’s quick-thinking changed that, charging down scrum-half Agustin’s Ormaechea’s kick and then booting on ahead for his first international try.
And Nowell – another man making his World Cup bow – added the sixth try when Care dummied and fed him on the left wing, before Easter rumbled off another rolling maul for his third.
George Ford’s long pass gave Nowell his second with 10 minutes to go, and the fly-half’s quick thinking from a tap penalty allied to Slade’s perfectly timed final pass set the winger away for another.
As time ran out, England were awarded a penalty try, but it will be for the earlier failings that their World Cup will be remembered.
What happens next?
The Rugby Football Union has already announced a review into England’s hugely disappointing campaign, the first time they have failed to make the knockout stages.
Lancaster has been bullish about his future this week but it is almost certain there will be change, whether in the head coach’s own position or in those around him.
Man of the match
Slade’s performance in the 13 shirt – he can also play fly-half and ended up at inside centre on Saturday – both promises a brighter future for England and raises questions about why it took this long to get him involved.
The Exeter man was not even on the replacements’ bench against Wales or Australia, yet he brought both a guile and speed in thought and deed that was sorely missing in those two critical defeats.
What they said
England boss Stuart Lancaster: “I think anyone in my position who has worked since December 2011 to this point would say it would be hard to walk away from but I understand it’s a results business.
“It’s not just what’s in my mind; there’s a lot of other people who are going to have a say but it has been a tough week and I just wanted to get it over with.
“It has been a tough week for the players and certainly the reaction of the crowd was a lift, I thought the crowd were brilliant tonight.”
England: Goode; Watson, Slade, Farrell, Nowell; Ford, Care; M Vunipola, T Youngs, Cole, Launchbury, Parling, Haskell, Robshaw, Easter.
Replacements: Brown for Watson (67), Joseph for Farrell (60), Wigglesworth for Care (72), Marler for Vunipola (73), George for T Youngs (30), Wilson for Cole (44), Kruis for Parling (56), Wood for Haskell (62).
Uruguay: Mieres; Gibernau, Prada, A Vilaseca, Silva; Berchesi, Ormaechea; Sanguinetti, Arboleya, Sagario, S Vilaseca, Zerbino, Gaminara, Beer, Nieto.
Replacements: A Duran for Berchesi (75), Blengio for Ormaechea (75), Corral for Sanguinetti (63), O Duran for Arboleya (72), Klappenbach for Sagario (63), Palomeque for Zerbino (63), Magno for Beer (69), Alonso for Nieto (69).
Sin Bin: S Vilaseca (42).
Ref: Chris Pollock (New Zealand).