As England waltzed to another victory over Warren Gatland’s faltering Wales side, Eddie Jones will be privately raising a wry smile after having a number of positives to take away from the game.
Here, we give you just five of the reasons why Jones should feel more confident about his team’s chance in Australia this summer.
1) Impressive performances from faces old and new
Joe Launchbury was rightfully award the Man of the Match award after a fantastic afternoon where like his biggest rival for the England number four shirt, Maro Itoje, he seemed to be ubiquitous. A constant ball carrying threat, Launchbury was involved in almost all of England’s tries, and put in one of his best performances for the red rose.
But the England second row was only one of a number of standout players. Teimana Harrison looked perfectly at home in his international debut: fantastically abrasive, ferocious with ball in hand and in defence, Harrison brought his outstanding performances for Northampton Saints into the international arena.
Likewise, Jack Clifford showed his diversity by putting in a sizeable shift from number eight, showing he is a genuine alternative to Saracens’ Billy Vunipola. His pace to beat Wales centre Scott Williams was just the tip of the iceberg for Clifford, who showed he is the intelligent back rower England has been lacking for a while.
It’s likely Matt Mullan’s efforts at loosehead will go largely unnoticed by the media, but his dominance over Samson Lee at scrum time shows why he was unlucky not to feature for England during the Six Nations. He now has a genuine chance to push for the England loosehead spot over Mako Vunipola during the tour.
In the backs, Anthony Watson’s finishing qualities were on display once more, and both he and Jonathan Joseph showed the importance of a combination of footwork and pace to out-manoeuvre the brute strength of Wales’ colossal back division.
2) Finishing opportunities
It’s not often Wales concede five tries when they pride themselves so much on their defence, but England took almost every chance they had.
From Watson’s world class finish to Lawes’ stunning hand-off of Jamie Roberts, to Youngs’ vision and power to force his way over the try line, England wasted very few chances when they arose.
England has brought their efficiency from the Six Nations into the start of the summer fixtures and will hopefully continue in this vein against an Australian side unlikely to afford the same opportunities to the men in white as Wales did today.
3) Growing into the game
Against Wales in the Six Nations, England took the foot off the pedal in the last 20 minutes, and Wales almost came away with an unbelievable victory.
However, today England started slowly but gradually took a stranglehold on the game, putting in an impressive second half performance that meant they created an insurmountable lead, and forced Wales to play a brand of rugby that didn’t suit their strengths.
England even won with considerable ease despite the atrocious place-kicking of George Ford, who had one of his worst days in an England shirt.
4) Consistency at the set piece
Eddie Jones talked of rebuilding England’s set piece when he took on the role of head coach, and he appears to be living up to his word in that regard. The scrum was solid at first before England later embarrassed Wales’ much-vaunted front five in the second half. Similarly, the lineout was a bastion of consistency with England winning 18 and not losing one, with Wales losing 3 of their own throws.
England still need to work on their rolling and driving mauls as it’s traditionally a powerful weapon in the nation’s armoury, but is something that has been lacking in international rugby since 2003.
5) Winning without its core players
Although Wales were missing a few star names with the likes of Warburton, Tipuric and Charteris not playing and Lydiate going off early on, this was almost a full-strength team that Wales fielded.
England, in comparison, were missing Marler, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Vunipola, Farrell, Tuilagi and Nowell, as well as Mako Vunipola.
It’s likely that Farrell would have kicked a fair few of those kicks that Ford missed, and the final score would have been 38-13 if Ford had knocked them all over.
England shouldn’t get carried away with what was a faintly tame encounter in comparison to what will be an altogether scenario down under, but with plenty of things to work on England will get their teeth stuck into their work and hope to build on the solid foundation laid for the summer.
Watch out, Wallabies, England will not just be making up the numbers this time.
Read More About: Anthony Watson, ben youngs, Courtney Lawes, eddie jones, eddie jones news, england 27 - wales 13, england rugby, england v wales, Farrell, george ford, Itoje, jack clifford, jamie roberts, joe marler, Kruis, Mako Vunipola, marland yarde, Robshaw, Teimana Harrison, Tuilagi and Nowell, twickenham, vunipola, warren gatlands