England head coach Eddie Jones has heaped praise on his players who recorded a surprise 19-7 victory over New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final in Yokohama.
The Australian native masterminded a heroic performance by his side who scored a try after less than two minutes, courtesy of Manu Tuilagi, while they held the reigning world champions scoreless for the majority of the game.
Every time the All Blacks threatened, they were thwarted by the sheer ferocity of the English defence. New Zealand were handed a lifeline midway through the second half when a rare setpiece malfunction from England gifted Ardie Savea possession who dove over the line.
Yet, England kept their composure and with George Ford kicking two further penalties and their defence remaining tight, the northern hemisphere side held out. The formidable defensive effort was an aspect Jones was eager to highlight and compliment following the game.
“We played against a great team today – Steve Hansen, a great coach, Kieran Read. a great captain, we had to dig deep. We knew we had to come off the line hard and keep taking away time and space and we managed to do that, cause a few errors and we maybe had a few lucky bounces and got the result.
“World Cup is always about defence and our best form of attack is defence. We create opportunities for our defence to attack. But again, I’d like to pay the greatest compliment to New Zealand, they won two World Cups in a row and they’ve been a great team so we had to dig really deep to beat them.”
England now find themselves in their first World Cup final since 2007 and given their performance today, they are likely to be favourites heading into the decider against either Wales or South Africa.
“I’m excited for the boys’, Jones finished.
“They have worked really hard to get where they are and we’ve just got another week in the competition now.”