‘ We stayed in the arm wrestle – bring on the All Blacks’
Bring on New Zealand was Eddie Jones’s response after England clambered off the ropes to defeat South Africa and set up next Saturday’s date with the World Cup holders.
“It was a real show of resilience,” said Jones, England’s head coach.
“There was a lot of toughness from us. We stayed in the arm wrestle and turned the game around.
“We were not quite good enough to take advantage of a couple of opportunities we had but we scored the winning points. We played some of the big moments really well and I could not be prouder of the players.
“The young players did exceptionally well and we can look forward to New Zealand now. We are going to prepare well and I cannot wait to play them. New Zealand are different to South Africa, wanting an athletic contest. We will not be wearing singlets and running shorts. It will be a proper game of rugby. You want to face the best in the world and the Kiwis are that. Bring it on.”
England had a scare at the end of the match when a challenge made by Owen Farrell on André Esterhuizen was reviewed by the referee, Angus Gardner. At issue was the height of the challenge and whether the fl y- half had used his arms. Gardner ruled no offence and blew for full- time.
“He was running pretty hard and I tried to wrap my arms around him,” said Farrell. “I did not know how the review was going to go – anything can happen. The important thing is the fight the boys showed after all they threw at us in the first half. ”
South Africa’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, would not be drawn on the legitimacy of the challenge. “We will just have to learn to tackle like that,” he said. “We played really well for long periods of the game but when you lose by a point it usually comes down to discipline.”
The England fl anker Tom Curry was replaced at the start of the second half and left the ground on crutches . Jones said it was too early to tell whether he would be in contention for New Zealand but Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes are expected to be fit after missing this victory.