Tactical awareness key to Grand Slam bid: Jones

England's Dylan Hartley celebrates with the Triple Crown at the end of the 25-21 victory over Wales.
England's Dylan Hartley celebrates with the Triple Crown at the end of the 25-21 victory over Wales. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • England coach Eddie Jones said his rugby side needed to demonstrate greater tactical awareness if they were to mark the Australian's first season in charge with a Six Nations Grand Slam.

He saw the team maintain his perfect record as England coach with a 25-21 win over Wales at Twickenham on Saturday - their fourth victory in as many games under the former Australia and Japan coach.

For the best part of an hour, England were in complete command against Wales thanks to Anthony Watson's converted try and a flawless seven out of seven goal kicks from Owen Farrell.

But, at 25-7 up, they saw prop Dan Cole sin-binned and Wales then scored two converted tries inside the final seven minutes through George North and Taulupe Faletau.

However, England clung on to keep their Slam bid alive.

England, who last won the Six Nations in 2011, will be crowned champions with a round to spare if Scotland beat France at Murrayfield this morning (Singapore time) after finishing runners-up on four successive occasions under Stuart Lancaster, whose post-World Cup sacking paved the way for Jones' appointment.

Regardless, England will take the title and a first Grand Slam since their World Cup-winning year of 2003 - when Jones was coaching beaten finalists Australia - with victory away to France on Saturday.

Jones said the team's slump in the final quarter stemmed from trying to hold on to what they had, rather than trying to extend their lead.

"In the last 20 (minutes), we stopped attacking and when we attacked them, they really struggled to keep up with us. When we sat back and kicked the ball back to them, we struggled, so it is a really good lesson."

Wales eventually scored through Dan Biggar's charge-down try early in the second half and Jones said: "Rugby is a funny game. One kick gets charged down, they get a few referee decisions.

"You have to increase your intensity and it was only in the last three minutes of the game we increased the intensity and we had to."

Looking ahead to this weekend's finale in Paris, he said: "There is nothing massively there we have to change, we just have to have more awareness tactically of what we want to do."

Wales coach Warren Gatland was at a loss to explain his side's slow start.

"I have said to the players, only they can answer that question why they were so flat or lethargic in that first half," he said.

But the New Zealander praised England by adding: "They were accurate and strong on the ball and put us under some pressure."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'Tactical awareness key to Grand Slam bid: Jones'. Print Edition | Subscribe