Sunday 19 November 2017

'Boks pained by Jones' England

England 37 South Africa 21

England's George Ford outruns a tackle by 'Boks Pat Lambie. Photo: Getty
England's George Ford outruns a tackle by 'Boks Pat Lambie. Photo: Getty Sportsdesk

The Eddie and England show is box office, the coach with the sassy tongue and sharp mind producing a team in his own image. And with a pledge that there is more to come.

In the manner of the man, smart and fast-talking, there were no platitudes about England's next opponents, Fiji.

England's Joe Marler (C) enters the fray. Photo: Getty
England's Joe Marler (C) enters the fray. Photo: Getty

"We just have to bore them to death," said Jones. "You go to Fiji and everyone is throwing 15-metre torpedo passes, flicking the ball through their legs, sidestepping. If they can't do that they get bored. If they get bored, they don't want to play. We are going to win the game and I want to win it conclusively. To win it conclusively, we have to bore them to death."

This is osmosis England. Jones speaks, his players absorb. That is now the England way. They win by the necessary means. Played 10 under Jones. Won 10. What a turnaround in fortunes, from World Cup misfits to multidimensional winners.

There is no sense, though, of a peak scaled. The perfectionist that is Jones, the master of detail who is also a sensitive man-manager, will continue to drive his players hard. It is a tough-love regime and it is paying dividends.

No quibbles, no patronising dismissal of the Springboks, poor as they were. There were many imperfections in England's performance, but such is the state of renewal that criticism is welcomed. It is a mark of praise, of raised standards.

Owen Farrell oh his way to scoring England's fourth try. Photo: Getty
Owen Farrell oh his way to scoring England's fourth try. Photo: Getty

One of the marks of this side is that Jones is no longer a puppet master. As he puts it, his job is to "make myself redundant", to the point where the onus is on the players to react to events.

England were on their backsides in the early stages, giving away penalties, allowing the Springboks into the game. No panic. No edginess. England did the basics well enough, with an accomplished line-out - if a wobbling scrum - but they were dynamic and proficient at the breakdown, predatory, too, when it came to taking their chances.

The pack, with Joe Launchbury prominent, Chris Robshaw industrious and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, hard-core operators, laid the foundations. And the backs did not let them down. There is a real belief about England.

Two wings out injured, so in comes Jonny May blitzing through for the first try after 11 minutes. That set the tone.

George Ford
George Ford

England knew even then that they had the capacity to hurt. And they did, with Ben Youngs the trigger for identikit second-half tries from George Ford and Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes having followed up Mike Brown's dribble kick to touch down for his first international try on his 50th cap.

Youngs is one of several to have flourished under Jones. The Leicester scrum-half twice spotted the gap and beat South African flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit to feed his teammates.

Centre Ben Te'o, prop Kyle Sinckler and back-rower Nathan Hughes (who was fortunate not to see yellow for a challenge on Johan Goosen) made their debuts from the bench. The conveyor belt continues to whirl.

South Africa are under the pump. They did not roll up the white flag, scoring late through Wasps-bound Willie le Roux to add to the 59th-minute try from the impressive substitute Goosen, but they are in trouble.

England: Brown; Yarde, Daly, Farrell, May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Robshaw, Wood, B Vunipola. Replacements: Care for Youngs (68), Marler for M Vunipola (63), George for Hartley (57), Hughes for Wood (54), Attwood for B Vunipola (73), Sinckler for Cole (73), Teo'o for Ford (73).
South Africa: Le Roux; Combrinck, Venter, De Allende, Pietersen; Lambie, Paige, Mtawarira, Strauss, Koch, Etzebeth, De Jager, Alberts, Du Toit, Whiteley. Replacements: Mostert for Etzebeth (31), Goosen for Lambie (55), F de Klerk for Paige (63), Kitshoff for Mtawarira (56), Adriaanse for Koch (56), Carr for De Jager (68), Mbonambi for Strauss (74), Mapoe for Pietersen (78).
Ref: J Garces (France)

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