Billy Vunipola sent flying by ex-Waikato enforcer Zane Kapeli in emphatic RWC hit

When Billy Vunipola gets the ball at speed, he's used to breaking the line or at least making a few metres as he smashes into a defensive line.

So when the English No.8 was sent backwards by former Waikato loose forward Zane Kapeli in last night's Rugby World Cup clash, it's easy to see why the Tongan bench got fired up.

Vunipola was fed the ball off a lineout near halfway and looked to go on one of his trademark barnstorming runs but instead he was stopped dead in his tracks and put in reverse by Kapeli, who drove him into the Sapporo turf.

Spark Sport commentator and former All Black Stephen Donald was a former teammate of Kapeli's at Waikato and wasn't surprised by the huge tackle.

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After a journeyman career, Kapeli has been named for his Test debut tomorrow. Source: 1 NEWS

"He spent a fair bit of time in Waikato footy," Donald said.

"I'm pretty happy I didn't have to play him too much myself."

Another of Kapeli's former teammates, All Blacks halfback Brad Weber, also had bone-crunching memories of Kapeli after seeing the hit on Vunipola.

"Played with Zane Kapeli for a few years at Waikato," Weber wrote on Twitter.

"He was always the guy, whenever we had a tackling drill during training, that you'd move as far away from as possible.

"This is why."

While the tackle injected some life into the 'Ikale Tahi, it wasn't enough to cause an upset as England soldiered on for a scrappy 35-3 win.

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England's Vunipola looked to find a linebreak against Tonga but all he discovered was the Sapporo turf. Source: Spark Sport RWC