It was an eighth straight win over Australia, but there wasn’t much English euphoria. Eddie Jones and his squad soon shifted their focus to the last fall mission. Revenge.
The head coach is well aware that his rebuilding team will have to do much better against the Boks than they were against the chronically limited Wallabies.
England must take a giant step to avoid being the victim of another South African knockout, two years after their dreams were shattered in the Yokohama World Cup final.
England had to fight hard to get through Australia with a 32-15 win at Twickenham
“If you’re participating in heavyweight competition and fighting George Foreman, who can hit and hit and hit and hit, you have to do something a little different,” Jones said. We have four days to think of something a little different. And we will. ‘
Jones set the stage for an epic test by talking about preparing for a ‘final’ and taking the ‘scalp’ of world champions.
There will be no shortage of motivation, especially for those players who were on the losing end in the 2019 final, and those who were part of the Lions team that fell in a series loss in South Africa in the summer.
But a quest for revenge won’t be enough. England have to play with more poise and precision, as well as fire and fury.
Against Australia, their scrum fought off a patched up Wallaby group and there were damaging lineout misses. Worse still, England was overshadowed in the collapse by a visiting team that they scrapped and bungled to fill a gulf in class.
Without the ability to generate sustained pressure in a match-up start-stop mess, Jones’ men lacked a leading edge after their surprising first attempt, finished by Freddie Steward.
The Leicester winger was excellent and the new multipurpose rotating baseline showed glimpses of potential. But it’s a work in progress and the same could be said for the 10-12 alliance between Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell.
It would be rude to be too harsh on the victors who eventually won with room to spare, but his own response was sincere.
“To be honest, I think we are more satisfied with the result,” said Kyle Sinckler. “We were a bit fought and the breakdown needs to improve, also from set pieces.
“We want to attack more and really bring the game to the teams, it just takes time. It’s about ending those opportunities. Sometimes it was good and sometimes it was sloppy. We will get there. ‘
Heading into the showdown with the world champions, Jones added: ‘South Africa presents a different challenge, based on the precision of their kick and chase, the physicality of their forwards around the ruck and a very strong scrum.
‘The first thing we have to do is be really consistent in our scrum, so we don’t allow them to access our half.
We have to try to remove the maul from them and be very good at neutralizing their kicks. If we do that, we can create opportunities to attack them. We will enter prepared for that type of game.
Freddie Steward scored the first down, but England struggled to kick from there.
“Like any team, they have weaknesses in their defense and we can find some of them.”
Any desire to nullify the Boks’ kicks will depend largely on Steward, who has had a ducks-overboard impact as a rookie in Trials. It turns out that Jones had initially doubts about the 20-year-old Tiger, but has hastily revised his opinion.
“I remember seeing Freddie with Leicester last season and at first we thought maybe he didn’t have enough pace to play test rugby,” Jones said. We brought it in summer to see it. He surprised us with the pace he has.
“He’s brave in the air and has a pretty straightforward game. Players with a simple game tend to adapt much faster. He’s such a guy. ‘
These days, Sinckler is one of England’s older players and the Bristol mainstay has been excited by the presence of a core of rookies on the national team such as Smith, Steward, Raffi Quirke, Bevan Rodd and Adam Radwan. The desire to help with his development motivates the 28-year-old, as does the opportunity to try again with the Boks.
Maro Itoje and company are now fully focused on making plans for the world champions South Africa
Sinckler was forced to retire early in the World Cup final after a collision that left him in shock.
“I was only on the field for a minute or two,” he said. ‘It took me a while to process what happened. It was quite difficult, but that’s the plan of the universe for me and I have to keep my head and use it as motivation now. ‘
When asked if the game against South Africa had been featured in his diary for some time, Sinckler added: ‘Yes, I would say yes. I was disappointed with the Lions’ result in the summer and, obviously, two years ago, how it ended.
‘So I’m very motivated to play. I want to give everything for my brothers. I’d be lying if I didn’t look at that accessory and say, “I need to be ready for that game.”
Eddie Jones has finished exaggerating about the clash with the Springboks, with the aim of taking the ‘scalp’
All England players must be prepared. If they allow the Springbok pack to interrupt them like the Australian forwards did, they will be defeated.
If they waste opportunities like they did against the Wallabies, they will be defeated.
Time will tell if Jones has a few more strategic tricks up his sleeve, but as the Lions discovered, trying to beat South Africa at their own low-stakes game usually doesn’t end well.
So there will be tactical and selection dilemmas this week, as well as the downside of having two mainstays, Ellis Genge and Joe Marler, isolated after testing positive for Covid.
England are two out of two this fall, but their new era needs a statement result.
Beating the world champions would check that box.
CHRIS FOY WEEKEND VERDICT
Time to go with the flow, Jaco
England’s encounter with Australia was a slump after the classic Ireland-New Zealand Test that preceded it and part of the blame was on the referee. Jaco Peyper proved once again that he is too pedantic and lacks the ability to allow a game to flow. His overly officious style contrasted with the way Luke Pearce superbly supervised the proceedings in Dublin.
Australians often refer to the “whiny pompoms,” but it was the Wallabies, more than their English rivals, who constantly complained about Twickenham. Michael Hooper is a good player, but the visiting captain was warned by constant protests and former Exeter scrum-half Nic White was another strong voice in an almost constant state of outrage. The entire appeal was tedious and ineffective.
The Irish must carry on from here
Andy Farrell has taken his time to truly establish himself as Ireland’s head coach, but the epic win over the All Blacks has given his regime a real boost after an unconvincing start. However, the Irish have been here before, peaking between World Cups before failing in the main event.
Johnny Sexton was right to emphasize that this cannot be the peak.
Kolisi hits the bottom
Following South Africa’s victory over Scotland at Murrayfield, Captain Siya Kolisi celebrated by autographing the back of the front Y of a Springbok fan, in the colors of the national flag. Kolisi added a playful pat and shared a hug for the cameras. Before the game, he sent the South African women’s team a good luck message with him singing and dancing. The man really is a statesman.
Lowe Down is right on
Leinster winger James Lowe was one of the mainstays of the Irish win try and then added a blunt style point when he said: ‘We don’t play negative football, like the South African stereotype. They don’t play the game the way it should be played when they win matches. We have our own identity and it’s great. ‘
Fair play to Lowe for speaking his mind on this issue.
Fiji deserves a seat at the head table
There was a lot of tension in Cardiff when Wales beat Fiji, but there was also a lot of joy. It was a pleasure to see veteran forward Alex Cuthbert (left) show pure emotion after his brilliant finish, which helped avoid a surprise. And there was also joy in the bold brilliance of Fiji. They deserve to be added to the Rugby Championship. They can certainly compete with the elite.