Jones shuns Grand Slam thoughts

England's Mike Brown (right) being tackled by Ireland's Conor Murray during their Six Nations encounter on Saturday. England won comprehensively to move closer to a Six Nations clean sweep.
England's Mike Brown (right) being tackled by Ireland's Conor Murray during their Six Nations encounter on Saturday. England won comprehensively to move closer to a Six Nations clean sweep.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • England coach Eddie Jones jokingly said he did not even know what a Grand Slam was after his side moved closer to a Six Nations clean sweep with a 21-10 win over Ireland at Twickenham.

Saturday's success made it three wins out of three for England's rugby team under the Australian and left them top of the table.

Jones was appointed after England axed Stuart Lancaster following a World Cup where they became the first host nation to crash out in the group stage.

The Englishman's failure to guide England to a Six Nations title - they were runners-up four years in a row under him - was also held against him by the Rugby Football Union.

For all their playing resources and financial muscle, England have not been crowned Six Nations champions since 2011, with their last Grand Slam coming in their World Cup-winning year of 2003.

And with Wales, unbeaten in this season's Six Nations, drawing their opener against Ireland, his team's next opponents, Jones said: "I'm still trying to work out what a Grand Slam is. All we want to do is beat Wales in two weeks (at Twickenham on March 12)."

Two tries in four second-half minutes from backs Anthony Watson and Mike Brown proved decisive in what was England's first match at Twickenham since a 13-33 defeat by Australia in October dumped them out of the World Cup.

Jones was encouraged by England's build-up play but less so by the quality of their first-half finishing.

"Ireland are the incumbent Six Nations champions so we expected a tough game. We left 10-15 points out there in the first half," he said. "The structure of our attack was excellent, but the finishing wasn't. This was a decent step up."

Defeat all but ended injury-hit Ireland's bid for an unprecedented third successive outright Six Nations title as it left them without a win this season after the Wales draw was followed by an agonising 9-10 loss to France in Paris.

"They squeezed up the line-out really well," said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt of England. "That platform didn't work for us to keep the pressure on. Once you are in the (opposition) 22 and you have those opportunities, you can't release that valve too easily."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 29, 2016, with the headline 'Jones shuns Grand Slam thoughts'. Print Edition | Subscribe