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Autumn Nations Cup final: England not yet peaked – Eddie Jones


Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones’ England secured the Six Nations earlier this autumn after a final round of matches delayed by the coronavirus outbreak

England head coach Eddie Jones says his side have still not reached their peak as they prepare to face France in the Autumn Nations Cup final.

Les Bleus were the last side to beat England at the start of the 2020 Six Nations.

“We don’t feel like we’ve played our best rugby yet,” Jones said.

“It’s our last game. It’s our grand final of 2020 and we want to make sure we put on our best performance.

“We want to make sure we put on a performance that lights up people’s eyes when they sit there and they look at the team and they want to be part of the team.”

The final will be played in front of 2,000 fans at Twickenham, the Rugby Football Union announced on Thursday.

Jones said his side lacked precision, despite a 24-13 win over Wales in Llanelli which featured tries for Mako Vunipola and Henry Slade.

“We weren’t as precise as we would have liked out wide,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We are showing signs of where we want to go.”

Jones added that improved levels of fitness and physicality in the game had forced teams to kick for territory rather than beat defences with speed, strength and ball in hand.

Saturday’s contest in Llanelli featured 29 kicks from hand as both teams probed for space in backfield and pressurised the opposition back three under the high ball.

Pool A
Ireland meet Georgia in Pool A’s final match on Sunday

“It is the way rugby is at the moment,” Jones added. “The size of the pitch hasn’t changed. You have 15 players now who are all athletically superior to what they were 12 months ago, so space is hard to find.

“Sometimes you want to go round, sometimes you want to go through and sometimes over the top. At the moment, over the top is the way to do it.”

‘If you don’t like set-pieces, go and watch league’

Sam Underhill
Sam Underhilll won man of the match after a performance that featured a 59m gain from eight carries, as well as his trademark defensive work

England flanker Sam Underhill, who played two seasons of club rugby at Ospreys before moving to Bath, said he knew that Wales would provide stiff opposition, despite Wayne Pivac’s side only ending a run of six straight defeats last weekend against Georgia.

“We were expecting a proper challenge down here and it was,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We can be pretty happy with our performance. Wales are still a quality team. They have got good ball-carriers and serious pace on the outside.”

He also defended England’s approach of building their game on a strong set-piece and defence.

England won all 11 of their own line-outs and forced Wales into conceding five penalties at the scrum.

“I wouldn’t say it [the style] is boring. If you don’t like scrums and line-outs, go and watch rugby league,” he added.

“The quality of the set-piece now compared to 10 years ago is the difference. The quality of rugby in general is going up and the more that goes up, the smaller the margin for error.”

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