ENGLAND rounded off their Rugby World Cup with a ten-try romp in Manchester in their final act at their own party.
The players will now return to club rugby for the next three weeks, while the world’s best compete for the Webb Ellis trophy.
This was England’s first home match away from Twickenham for six years, but it was not in the circumstances they would have wanted.
Instead of it being a celebratory evening ahead of the knockout stages, it was a match between two eliminated sides, even if the home crowd did their best to lift the mood.
Those two defeats to Wales and Australia have left gaping wounds, which will take a long time to recover.
Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has come in for a raft of criticism already, but he had tried to prepare his men as best he could for this final encounter.
There were eight personnel changes from the crushing loss to the Australians, while Owen Farrell was moved from fly-half to inside centre.
And on the same night as an epic Rugby League Grand Final was taking place just down the road at Old Trafford, there was no room for Sam Burgess, whose inclusion in England’s squad has been such a thorny issue.
Regardless of what had gone before, victory was always going to be a formality against the Uruguayans.
However, the minnows scored the first points of the evening when the hosts were penalised for offside and fly-half Felipe Barchesi kicked the penalty.
But the expected order was quickly restored when Anthony Watson won a foot race to touch down from Jack Nowell’s chip kick forward, although there was a hint of offside about it.
Two further tries arrived and they were sweet moments for Nick Easter.
The No.8 was working as a pitch-side analyst at Twickenham for England’s first two games of this tournament before being drafted into the squad as injury cover.
This was a final match in his third World Cup, and at 37, it’s unlikely that Easter will be part of the plans for the Six Nations, but he went out on a high.
An interval score of 21-3 was a disappointing return for England, given how much time they had spent in opposition territory.
But they took advantage of tired bodies in the second half, running up seven tries after the break.
Watson grabbed his second, Henry Slade showed impressive skills with his feet for his, Easter completed an impressive hat-trick, Exeter wing Nowell bagged three of his own, and there was a penalty try right at the death.
The inquests will now begin in earnest and it’s anyone guess who will be in charge for England’s next game against Scotland at Murrayfield in the Six Nations on February 6.Stuart Lancaster – Pain of World Cup exit will take a long time to go away – click here to read more