Jones ad­mits frus­tra­tion as Eng­land grind out vic­tory

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Mick Cleary at Twick­en­ham

Ed­die Jones, the Eng­land head coach, ad­mit­ted he was “frus­trated” af­ter TV cam­eras caught him slam­ming his notepad into a bench and curs­ing as his side strug­gled to over­come Ar­gentina, although they did even­tu­ally gather them­selves to win 21-8.

He con­ceded it had been “a grindathon”, and that “our flu­ency and un­der­stand­ing were not there”. Even so, it was Eng­land’s 20th win in 21 Tests un­der Jones, who pledged: “We will be so much bet­ter next week,” when Aus­tralia come to Twick­en­ham.

The Aus­tralian had not re­alised the cam­eras were on him as he lost his cool around the hour mark af­ter a penalty award against flanker Sam Un­der­hill.

“I haven’t seen it,” said Jones. “How frus­trated? Throw­ing stuff? That is pretty frus­trated. We want to play good rugby. I don’t see any rea­son why I shouldn’t be frus­trated.”

He will have to make changes to shake his team from the tor­por that af­flicted them for much of a dreary game. Owen Far­rell, who was on wa­ter-boy du­ties, and Maro Itoje are ex­pected to re­turn, hav­ing been rested af­ter their ex­ploits for the Li­ons in New Zealand.

Mike Brown, Eng­land’s full-back, was forced off the field in the 22nd minute af­ter a mid-air col­li­sion with his op­po­site num­ber, Joaquin Tu­culet, who was sent to the sin-bin.

“Brown will have to do a re­turn to play as he was hit pretty heav­ily,” said Jones, who put his side’s rusti­ness down to hav­ing had only four proper train­ing ses­sions.

“We had op­por­tu­ni­ties to score more points and just lacked that un­der­stand­ing,” he added. We are hop­ing Aus­tralia bring their ab­so­lute best game and see where we are at.”

We might have ex­pected a few lin­ger­ing fire­works so soon af­ter Guy Fawkes’ day but in­stead it was a bon­fire of English van­i­ties that blew up in Twick­en­ham faces.

Eng­land have been so bullish, so pub­lic about their de­sire to reach new stan­dards and take their game to a dif­fer­ent level in their quest to top­ple New Zealand as the No1-ranked side in the world that this jerky, frac­tured per­for­mance can only serve to re­mind ev­ery­one just how far they must go to match, let alone eclipse, the All Blacks.

It was their worst dis­play un­der Ed­die Jones, lack­ing in vi­tal­ity and clev­er­ness. It was no sur­prise when the TV cam­eras caught the Eng­land head coach smash­ing his notepad into the coaches’ bench in frus­tra­tion mid­way through the sec­ond half. The Rugby Foot­ball Union has just re­newed its spon­sor­ship with Guin­ness and this was suit­ably black stuff.

It was not un­til the 66th minute that Eng­land pulled clear with their sec­ond try scored by re­place­ment Semesa Roko­duguni, although that was al­most ruled out for a for­ward pass by Henry Slade, who had an un­der­whelm­ing af­ter­noon in the shirt nor­mally worn by Owen Far­rell. Such a stop-start game did not suit Slade’s style but the Ex­eter play­maker will be dis­ap­pointed.

So stac­cato was the gen­eral play that you had to make sure that the mark­ings still vis­i­ble from the re­cent Amer­i­can Foot­ball matches here were not ac­tu­ally meant to be still in use. It was 10 me­tres for­ward, churn-and-go, in­fringe­ment, er­ror and ever on and on.

Eng­land have to quickly re­group for Aus­tralia are headed their way, a much tougher as­sign­ment. The re­turn of a re­ju­ve­nated Far­rell and Maro Itoje will bring much-needed devil.

There were some up­beat tid­ings, the bul­lock­ing form of No 8 Nathan Hughes and the dogged ap­pli­ca­tion of prop Mako Vu­nipola. An­thony Wat­son was spo­rad­i­cally sprightly and although flanker Sam Un­der­hill be­gan well, he con­ceded a cou­ple of penal­ties. Eng­land need a se­ri­ous revving-up be­fore they take on the Wal­la­bies.

It is not as if this was a vin­tage Ar­gentina. In their most re­cent pomp of a cou­ple of years ago, the Pu­mas would have pre­sented a for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge and would have been much closer on the score­board if they had not spurned 12 points in miss­ing four penalty shots at goal.

These days, though, Ar­gentina are plucky rather than ir­re­sistible. True, they have been hard­ened by be­ing con­stantly un­der the cosh in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship but with only one win in 12 months (against Ge­or­gia), they are far from their for­mer ex­alted sta­tus, al­beit they did de­serve their late, scam­per­ing try from Ni­co­las Sanchez.

Ar­gentina knew they had to fight for ev­ery inch of turf, heave hard at ev­ery scrum and con­test ev­ery ball. That zeal needs fine-line de­ci­sion-mak­ing. It did not hap­pen like that. In the 22nd minute the Pu­mas’ full-back, Joaquin Tu­culet, came clat­ter­ing in as Mike Brown rose to take a high ball. It was not the most heinous mid-air col­li­sion but it was enough to see Tu­culet dis­patched to the sin-bin and Brown, who landed on his head, taken off for as­sess­ment.

Brown is one of Jones’s go-to men, “the cus­to­dian” at the rear as he calls him, the pre­ferred op­tion in 19 of Jones’s 20 Tests in charge, the player who sets the tone. Brown did not reap­pear. He has had prob­lems with con­cus­sion in the past, tak­ing a ter­ri­ble blow against Italy in Feb 2015 and miss­ing the rest of the sea­son.

Eng­land took ad­van­tage of their 10minute su­pe­ri­or­ity in num­bers. Within two min­utes they had scored their first

try. Hughes has grown into in­ter­na­tional rugby, aware that his au­di­tion might only last as long as Billy Vu­nipola’s ab­sence – ef­fec­tively this Novem­ber se­ries.

The Wasps back-rower is a dif­fer­ent player to Vu­nipola, more dy­namic, thrust­ing rather than churn­ing through tack­les. And it showed. Hughes was in the thick of the ac­tion from the first whis­tle, of­fer­ing him­self, smash­ing through the traf­fic.

He has fi­nally be­gun to trans­fer his club form into the in­ter­na­tional arena. It prom­ises to de­liver sig­nif­i­cant things if his maiden try in the 23rd minute is any­thing to go by. With Ar­gentina down to 14 men there was space out wide, where Hughes was lurk­ing. All it needed was for some­one to have the vi­sion and skill to spot the pos­si­bil­ity.

There are few more alert and aware play­ers on a rugby field than George Ford. The fly-half fizzed out a huge pass over the head of four play­ers to Hughes. The No 8 reached, caught, jug­gled, held the ball in his right hand, steamed for­ward, swapped it to his left hand as he cut in­side Emil­iano Bof­felli to touch down. It was a fab­u­lous fin­ish.

Where once there was a dearth of open­side flankers, now there is a crop.

Un­der­hill has won his way into the start­ing shirt on the strength of some com­mand­ing per­for­mances for Bath. Un­der­hill is a glue player, al­ways where the ball is. He is an im­pla­ca­ble force in the tackle, go­ing in low and nail­ing his man, as he showed from the off when chop­ping down the Ar­gentina cen­tre Santiago Gon­za­lez Igle­sias.

There was lit­tle clear-cut ac­tion through the game. It is rare that you crave sub­sti­tu­tions be­ing made for it of­ten di­min­ishes the spec­ta­cle. Yet so turgid and un­event­ful were pro­ceed­ings that the game cried out for some­one to grab it by the scruff of the neck.

The only player who did that was Sara­cens’ Alex Lo­zowski, who made a lovely arc­ing break past Ma­tias Ale­manno four min­utes af­ter com­ing on for Jonathan Joseph in the 62nd minute. From there, Eng­land man­aged to re­cy­cle the ball, Slade even­tu­ally find­ing Roko­duguni on the wide out­side, the Bath wing crash­ing over in the cor­ner, Ford con­vert­ing.

Ar­gentina, though, were not to be quelled, Sanchez scor­ing in the 78th minute. A mis­er­ably low-key af­ter­noon was then mer­ci­fully brought to a close.

Scor­ing 3-0 Ford pen, 3-3 Bof­felli pen, 6-3 Ford pen, 11-3 Hughes try, 14-3 Ford pen, 19-3 Roko­duguni try, 21-3 Ford con, 21-8 Sanchez try. Ref­eree M van der Westhuizen (South Africa).

Ground force: Nathan Hughes scores the first of Eng­land’s two tries in the 21-8 vic­tory over Ar­gentina at Twick­en­ham yes­ter­day. Head coach Ed­die Jones was ex­as­per­ated by the hosts’ fail­ure to ex­ploit many of their chances

High point: Semesa Roko­duguni goes over in the cor­ner for Eng­land’s sec­ond try, a rare mo­ment to savour on a dis­ap­point­ing af­ter­noon for the home side

The book bounces back Jones asks af­ter­wards: ‘Why shouldn’t I get frus­trated?’ Pity poor Un­der­hill...

I can’t be­lieve it! Ed­die Jones loses his cool af­ter flanker Sam Un­der­hill goes off his feet to con­cede a penalty

Oh crumbs! The Eng­land coach lets rip as he colour­fully pon­ders how the home debu­tant could be so daft

The note­book goes fly­ing Jones usu­ally keeps his cool - in pub­lic at least - and a dis­play of rage is rare

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