England 'just starting' after record-equalling win

by AFP

England coach Eddie Jones insisted his side were only "just starting" after they thrashed Scotland 61-21 at Twickenham on Saturday to retain their Six Nations title.

Jonathan Joseph scored a hat-trick as England ran in seven tries against the sorry Scots, with victory seeing Jones's men equal New Zealand's record of 18 successive Test wins by a Tier One or leading rugby nation.

"I've got to give credit to the players," Jones told ITV.

"They've worked hard and learnt new ways and when you're a professional player it's always hard to learn new things and they've been very open-minded."

Dylan Hartley holds the Calcutta Cup aloft. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Australian, yet to lose a match as England coach since taking over following the team's lacklustre first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, added: "The exciting thing for us is that we're only just starting.

"We're one year into a four-year project and we're going to get better and better," insisted Jones, whose ultimate goal with England is to win the World Cup in Japan in 2019.

England will surpass world champions New Zealand's record if they beat Ireland in Dublin next weekend, a match where a win would also see them complete back-to-back Grand Slams.

"Next week is about the Grand Slam and we are going to focus very closely on that," Jones, Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 Rugby World Cup final to England, added.

Scotland captain John Barclay slammed his side after the match. Photo: Getty ImagesEngland hadn't led at half-time in any of their previous matches this Six Nations and, remarkably, found themselves 10-5 down at the break at home to perennial strugglers Italy last time out after being confounded by the Azzurri's no-ruck tactics.

But they were sharp from the start against Scotland, with Joseph opening the scoring in the third minute.

"We started well and generally our intensity in the game was pretty good," Jones said.

"Against Italy we were ready to play a good game of rugby but as you know we didn't play rugby.

"Today we got a chance to play rugby and I was really pleased with their efforts."

It was largely one-way traffic after Joseph's opening score, with Anthony Watson, Billy Vunipola and Danny Care (two tries) also crossing for England in a match where centre Owen Farrell kicked 26 points.

England's final tally was the largest number of points either side had scored  in the 146-year history of the game's oldest international fixture, topping the 43 they had twice managed previously.

The 40-point winning margin also equalled the previous best in 135 matches between the arch-rivals set by England in a 43-3 victory in 2001.

"Coming back into the team, scoring a hat-trick and winning the Six Nations means it has been a great day," said Joseph, restored to the side in place of fellow centre Ben Te'o.

Joseph, whose silken running evoked comparisons with England centre great Jeremy Guscott, added: "Credit to the boys, I just ran the lines outside what they created and the holes were there for me."

Scotland arrived in London bidding for the Triple Crown and with hopes of a first Twickenham win since 1983.

But they were simply overpowered and outclassed, with Scotland captain John Barclay slamming his side as 'useless'.

"We just didn't show up today," said the back-row forward.

"The discipline was very poor in the first half and there were soft tries.

"We are trying to move away from that tag of plucky losers but that wasn't even that. That was useless."

In Rome fullback Brice Dulin ran in a late try to hand France their first bonus point and only second win in this year's Six Nations in a hard-fought 40-18 vicctory over Italy in Rome on Saturday.

It was France's first win since beating Scotland in Paris last month and Italy's fourth loss in a row following defeats to Wales (33-7), Ireland (63-10) and England. 

Yet despite glimpses of promise, France coach Guy Noves said: "We're happy with the win, but less so about a lot of other aspects of our game.

"My biggest pleasure was seeing how happy the players were after scoring three tries to secure the win, and a fourth that got us the bonus point."

Italy conceded their fourth tournament defeat under Conor O'Shea, who had steered the Azzurri to an historic 20-18 win over South Africa in November.


England 61

Tries: Joseph 3, Care 2, Watson, B Vunipola

Cons:  Farrell 7

Pens: Farrell 4

Scotland 21

Tries: Jones 2, Reid

Cons: Russell 3


Italy 18

Tries: Parisse (3), Esposito (80); 

Con: Canna (80);

Pens: Canna (16, 28)

France 40

Tries: Fickou (21), Vakatawa (48), Picamoles (67) Dulin (77)

Cons: Lopez (21, 48, 67, 77)

Pens: Lopez (8, 18, 34, 42)