Jones era starts with scrappy victory

Lock George Kruis putting England ahead with a try in their Six Nations match against Scotland. The visitors were often thwarted in their running game in the first half but managed to grind out a 15-9 win.
Lock George Kruis putting England ahead with a try in their Six Nations match against Scotland. The visitors were often thwarted in their running game in the first half but managed to grind out a 15-9 win.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

EDINBURGH • It took Eddie Jones about 40 minutes to realise that Southern Hemisphere-style running rugby is not so easy on a cold winter's day at Murrayfield, as a change of tactics enabled England to grind out a 15-9 victory over Scotland in his first game in charge.

The visitors had looked lively in the opening quarter of the Six Nations encounter on Saturday but their ambitious attacks too often came to naught, apart from a bulldozing run from lock George Kruis which put them ahead with a 14th-minute try.

Up 7-6 at the break, Jones' team took a more measured approach in the second half and, though they were never able to stretch clear, a second try by Jack Nowell and an increasingly dominant set piece ensured they always had their noses in front.

"We wanted to play some positive rugby, the attitude was to try to move the ball, but we were a bit off our game," Jones said. "It's hard to get an attacking game going when the referee allows the defence a lot of advantage at the breakdown, so you have to play with that in mind and adjust."

With their noses in front at half- time, he said victory was never in doubt. "It became a set-piece, defence game and we excelled in that and in the second half, I thought we were commanding.

"Our data was that Scotland scored 69 per cent of their points in the first 30 minutes, so at half-time, we were pretty confident and we won the game easily in the end."

It was also a satisfying start for Dylan Hartley as captain, particularly after Jones had said he wanted to re-establish England's pack as a unit to be feared.

"It was a bit of an arm wrestle in the first half," said the hooker, playing his first international since last year's Six Nations after he was omitted from the World Cup squad for disciplinary reasons. "We wanted to seek dominance at the set piece and that tends to creep in the second half. We stuck at it and when it mattered, we got some dividends."

In Paris, Virimi Vakatawa and Jules Plisson shone in a new-look France team, who secured a hard-fought 23-21 victory over Italy in their opener on Saturday.

The Stade de France was under tight security as the gates opened for the first time since last November's Paris attacks, when terrorist assaults on bars, restaurants, a concert hall and outside the stadium left 130 people dead.

French President Francois Hollande attended the game, which saw coach Guy Noves making a winning start like his England counterpart.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2016, with the headline 'Jones era starts with scrappy victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe