For Fiji coach John McKee, whose side have never beaten England, it was a case of what might have been.
The bonus point could prove crucial in a so-called “Pool of Death” including Australia and Wales – who England face next – and in Vunipola’s own personal battle with Gloucester Rugby’s Ben Morgan for the No.8 shirt.
Fiji almost hit back with a spectacular try of their own.
South African referee Jaco Peyper and video official Shaun Veldsman have been savaged for their handling of the opening match of the Rugby World Cup between England and Fiji at Twickenham, with fans up in arms on social media as Peyper repeatedly deferred to his television match official.
A strong opening quarter saw England establish a 15-0 lead through a penalty try and touch down from Mike Brown, setting the scene for a comfortable win in a ferociously competitive Pool A that also includes Wales and Australia.
Substitute flyhalf Owen Farrell restored England’s 10 point lead with a penalty, and Twickenham began to rest a little easier. From our point of view it’s exactly how we wanted it to unfold.
Prince Harry has made a cameo appearance at the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup, starring in a video on how the game was invented in the early 19th century.
‘If we had been offered a 24 point margin before the match, we would have taken it.
“Three times we got caught out with some of the decisions, but a few times we need to be more patient rather than go for the jugular straight from the off. The Fijian boys did that very well, fair play to them”.
But Vunipola said: “It’s more a message to the team that I’m willing to do whatever to help them, whether it’s during the week and training, not sulking – taking things on the chin and moving on”.
England, playing in their change kit of red after Fiji won the toss to wear white, went ahead when fly-half George Ford kicked a 40-metre penalty following a collapsed scrum.
Fiji’s fingers appeared to be hovering over the self-destruct button as they gifted the hosts a second try by opting for a throw to the back of the line-out when only five yards from their line. Geoff Parling, centres Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joesph shifted the ball quickly to create space for Brown, who stepped inside his man to place the ball.