Grand Slam ‘there for taking’ Jones tells England
AFP  Published : 11:11 am  March 13, 2016 | No comments so far | Print This Post  | 
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England coach Eddie Jones said the Grand Slam is “there for us to take” after his Six Nations leaders staved off a late Wales rally for a 25-21 win at Twickenham on Saturday.

England

Victory made it four wins out of four for England under the Australian and preserved their lead at the top of the table.

England, who last won the Six Nations in 2011, will be crowned champions with a round to spare if Scotland beat France in Edinburgh on Sunday.

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 March 19.

“The Grand Slam is there for us to take,” said Jones. “We can’t wait to get to Paris and to do the business.”

England dominated the first half against Wales and were 16-0 up at the break following a converted try by wing Anthony Watson and three penalties from the boot of centre Owen Farrell.

But, after England prop Dan Cole was sent to the sin-bin with eight minutes left, Wales hit back through tries from wing George North and No 8 Taulupe Faletau.

Wales’s revival was reminiscent of how they’d twice overturned 10-point deficits to beat England 28-25 in the World Cup at Twickenham in September — a result that played a key role in tournament hosts England’s early exit.

“When England played Wales in the World Cup in September and you had said that five months after they would be 25-7 up after 60 minutes you would be pretty happy,” said Jones, who coached Japan at last year’s global showpiece.

Jones added: “It is a really good lesson. It was more about trying to protect a lead rather than increase the lead.

“If we had played with the same intensity we did in the first 60 we would have won the game by a lot more. It is all about better decision making.”

England lock Maro Itoje, given his Test debut this season by Jones, had an outstanding game and the coach, who once compared him to a modest Vauxhall Viva saloon car, said he was a “BMW now”.

Man-of-the-match Itoje, in just his second Test start, stole a couple of Welsh line-outs during a fine all-round display.

“To play against them and get one or two steals in the line-out was pleasing but it wasn’t just me. We did well generally in the line-outs.”

Defeat ended Wales’s title hopes and coach Warren Gatland was bemused by their sluggish start.

“We just looked tired and not enthusiastic enough, but it was much better in the second half,” he said.

“I’m pretty proud in terms of the way the players didn’t give up, they kept fighting, which was good.”

Wales flanker Dan Lydiate, who ended up captaining the side after injuries to both first-choice skipper Sam Warburton and Jones, added: “All credit to the English team, we left ourselves too much to do.”

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