Equalling NZ record 'just the start' for Jones

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 00:58

REACTION: England coach Eddie Jones insisted his side were only "just starting" after they thrashed Scotland 61-21 at Twickenham on Saturday to retain their Six Nations title.

Jonathan Joseph scored a hat-trick as England ran in seven tries against the sorry Scots, with victory seeing Jones's men equal New Zealand's record of 18 successive Test wins.

The win also saw England retain their Six Nations title and if they beat Ireland in Dublin next weekend they will break the All Blacks' record, win the Triple Crown and complete back-to-back Grand Slams.

It was Ireland who ended New Zealand's run with a 40-29 win - their first-ever victory against the All Blacks - in Chicago in November.

"I've got to give credit to the players," Jones said.

"They've worked hard and learnt new ways and when you're a professional player it's always hard to learn new things and they've been very open-minded."

The Australian, yet to lose a match as England coach since taking over following the team's lacklustre first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup, added: "The exciting thing for us is that we're only just starting.

"We're one year into a four-year project and we're going to get better and better," insisted Jones, whose ultimate goal with England is to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

England will surpass world champions New Zealand's record if they beat Ireland in Dublin next weekend, a match where a win would also see them complete back-to-back Grand Slams.

"Next week is about the Grand Slam and we are going to focus very closely on that," Jones, Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England, added.

England hadn't led at half-time in any of their previous matches this Six Nations and, remarkably, found themselves 10-5 down at the break at home to perennial strugglers Italy last time out after being confounded by the Azzurri's no-ruck tactics.

But they were sharp from the start against Scotland, with Joseph opening the scoring in the third minute.

"We started well and generally our intensity in the game was pretty good," Jones said.

"Against Italy we were ready to play a good game of rugby but as you know we didn't play rugby.

"Today we got a chance to play rugby and I was really pleased with their efforts."

It was largely one-way traffic after Joseph's opening score, with Anthony Watson, Billy Vunipola and Danny Care (two tries) also crossing for England in a match where centre Owen Farrell kicked 26 points.

England's final tally was the largest number of points either side had scored in the 146-year history of rugby union's oldest international fixture, topping the 43 they had twice managed previously.

The 40-point winning margin also equalled the previous best in 135 matches between the arch-rivals set by England in a 43-3 victory in 2001.

"Coming back into the team, scoring a hat-trick and winning the Six Nations means it has been a great day," said Joseph, restored to the side in place of fellow centre Ben Te'o.

Joseph, whose silken running evoked comparisons with England centre great Jeremy Guscott, added: "Credit to the boys, I just ran the lines outside what they created and the holes were there for me."

Scotland arrived in London bidding for the Triple Crown and with hopes of a first Twickenham win since 1983.

But they were simply overpowered and outclassed, with Scotland captain John Barclay slamming his side as "useless.

"We just didn't show up today [Saturday]," said the back row forward.

"The discipline was very poor in the first half and there were soft tries.

"We are trying to move away from that tag of plucky losers but that wasn't even that. That was useless."

England's winning streak since October 10 2015.
Played: 18
Won:    18

Results

2015
Oct 10: England 60 Uruguay 3 (World Cup pool match)

2016
Feb 06: Scotland 9 England 15
Feb 14: Italy 9 England 40
Feb 27: England 21 Ireland 10
Mar 12: England 25 Wales 21
Mar 19: France 21 England 31
May 29: England 27 Wales 13
Jun 11: Australia 28 England 39
Jun 18: Australia 7 England 23
Jun 25: Australia 40 England 44
Nov 12: England 37 South Africa 21
Nov 19: England 58 Fiji 15
Nov 26: England 27 Argentina 14
Dec 03: England 37 Australia 21

2017
Feb 04: England 19 France 16
Feb 11: Wales 16 England 21
Feb 26: England 36 Italy 15
Mar 11: England 61 Scotland 21

Agence France-Presse

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Team P W D L Pts
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Wales 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 0