LONDON • England rugby coach Eddie Jones promised to do a better job after his "awful" Grand Slam champions launched the defence of their Six Nations title with a scrappy 19-16 win over France at Twickenham.
France had the better of the play but England, yet to lose under Australian boss Jones, were able to grind out an "ugly" win as they secured a national-record 15th consecutive Test victory.
The visitors were 16-12 up on the hour when replacement prop Rabah Slimani went over for a try France had long threatened. But in the end, it was England's bench strength that proved decisive, with replacement back Ben Te'o's try nine minutes from time giving England a lead extended by Owen Farrell's conversion.
"It is always good to win when you do not play well, and we did not play well," Jones said. "I take full responsibility for the performance."
The former Australia and Japan coach added: "I thought we were awful, but I thought we were always going to win the game and that is what I like about these boys. They have got a never-say-die attitude."
He sent on several replacements after Slimani's try, with back-row James Haskell, returning after a broken toe, and Auckland-born Te'o, whose maiden Test try came just moments after he took the field, making the biggest impact.
"The bench definitely made a difference," Jones said. "Haskell, for a guy that has played 35 minutes and 35 seconds this year, was brilliant, and Ben Te'o did really well for us, too."
Next up for England is Saturday's clash in Cardiff against Wales.
"I did not prepare the team well enough," said Jones.
"I have got a lot of homework to do over the weekend... England versus Wales in Wales, can you believe the Test record? Sixty per cent of the Tests have been won by Wales... So I need to work out why the English don't play well in Wales."
Victory maintained England's bid for back-to-back Grand Slams and saw them top the previous Red Rose record of 14 straight wins they had shared with Clive Woodward's celebrated 2003 side, who went on to win that year's World Cup by beating an Australia team coached by Jones in the final.
For France coach Guy Noves, there was renewed frustration at once again seeing his side fail to claim a major scalp after narrow November home defeats by Australia (25-23) and world champions New Zealand (24-19).
"We had opportunities... but, undoubtedly, we're on the right path," he said ahead of France's next match at home to Scotland, who upset Ireland 27-22 at Murrayfield on Saturday.
He said his side had been "polluted by quite a few individuals' mistakes" as he lamented their inability to close out the match.
"It lacks rigour, it lacks maturity," he said. "We've got a very young team.
"We're ahead by four points 10 minutes before the end, we shouldn't have lost this game."