JONES DEFENDS FARRELL AS ENGLAND EYE SIX NATIONS
EDDIE JONES has defended Owen Farrell’s tackle technique as the spotlight once again fell on England’s co-captain in a conclusive victory over Australia.
The Wallabies were overrun 37-18 in the climax to the Quilter Internationals at Twickenham on Saturday with the no-arms challenge by Farrell on lock Izack Rodda provoking a furious response from Michael Cheika.
Australia’s head coach declared the decision by referee Jaco Peyper not to consult the TMO as “ludicrous” and Sir Clive Woodward insisted a penalty try should have been awarded.
Farrell escaped punishment for a similar shoulder-led tackle in stoppage time of the 12-11 victory over South Africa that opened the autumn series, but Jones is satisfied with his fly-half ’s approach.
“The referee said it was good. When he says it’s not good, we’ll have a chat about it,” said Jones.
“When you hit people hard, you place yourself at risk. And he hits people hard. I like people being hit hard.
“There’s a judgement area all the time. Obviously we want to be within the laws.
“Owen doesn’t try to tackle outside of the laws so he’ll keep on working on that.”
Even had a penalty try been given and Farrell received a yel- low or red card, a sixth successive victory over Australia was virtually assured due to England’s dominance of the Cook Cup showdown.
Jonny May, Elliot Daly, Joe Cokanasiga and Farrell ran in tries to complete a successful autumn scarred only by a narrow defeat to New Zealand.
England were depleted by injury yet still posted wins against South Africa, Japan and the Wallabies, in the process uncovering a new star in giant 21-year-old wing Cokanasiga and confirming the rise of marauding prop Kyle Sinckler.
Cokanasiga almost plundered a second but was stopped short of the line following a run that evoked memories of Jonah Lomu, but Jones is wary of drawing comparison with the All Blacks great after just two caps.
“Lomu nearly won a World Cup for New Zealand. When Joe nearly wins a World Cup for us, then you can start talking about Lomu,” said Jones.
“We took a punt on Joe to come through and he has done exceptionally well. The big thing now is how hard he works on his game.
“He’s got to go back to his club Bath and work hard. He has to be absolutely brilliant at the basics.
“If he does that, he’s got a chance to see his career flourishing, but like every young player you need guidance.”
England’s next assignment is against Six Nations champions Ireland in Dublin on February 2, with revenge foremost in the mind after Joe Schmidt’s side sealed the Grand Slam at Twickenham last season.
“We owe them one. I’m not worried about winning the Six Nations, I’m worried about Ireland. We play them first up so it’s the most important game we’ve got coming up,” said Jones. “They’re the top team in Europe now. We want to be the top team in Europe. It’s pretty simple.”
Manu Tuilagi, meanwhile, feared his body might betray him even during the warm-up for England’s resounding victory over Australia.
Tuilagi made his first Test appearance for two years after stepping off the bench in the emphatic win, his entry on to the pitch greeted with an appreciative roar from the Twickenham crowd.
The powerful Leicester centre finally overcame the groin strain that had prevented him from featuring in the previous three Quilter Internationals to play a cameo role in scattering the Wallabies.
But after years spent rehabilitating serious groin, knee, hamstring and pectoral injuries, he was concerned he might break down again.
When asked if he had doubts that his body would hold up, Tuilagi said: “Always. I was nervous throughout the whole thing, the team run.
“We had a massive session on Wednesday and that was the session that if I got through it, because it was contact and a fast game, I would be all right for the game and thank God I got through it.
“We still had the team run on Friday and then the warm up before the game. All the stuff goes through your head.
“But the main thing was that I knew the groin strain was a little one. It was annoying but it has happened before so there is no point being down about it.”
Owen hits people hard. I like people being hit hard. England head coach Eddie Jones does not want Owen Farrell to curb his enthusiasm.
ENGLAND were declared worthy winners by Michael Cheika but the Australia coach raged at yet another controversial refereeing decision at Twickenham this autumn.
Eddie Jones’ men were emphatic 37-18 winners in the concluding Quilter International after second-half tries from Elliot Daly, Joe Cokanasiga and Owen Farrell swept them out of sight.
But once more the spotlight fell on the officiating after referee Jaco Peyper declined to punish Farrell for a shoulder-led tackle on Izack Rodda as he stopped the onrushing Wallabies lock on the stroke of half-time.
Peyper declined to use the TMO for a challenge that Sir Clive Woodward said should have been a penalty try – an outcome which would have thrust Australia 17-13 ahead with a conversion to come.
Farrell escaped sanction for a similar tackle in the autumn opener against South Africa, while a week later England were denied victory against New Zealand when a late try was ruled out by the TMO.
“I think it was a penalty try, yeah. I do. I want to make it clear that England were the better team. They deserved to win and had us under pressure for many minutes of the game,” said Cheika.
“But the justification that Rodda tried to take him on with his shoulder is ludicrous – that’s what the referee said. That’s what you do when you carry the ball!
“I went to the referees’ meeting they had here before the Wales game at the start of the autumn and they referred back to the Owen Farrell tackle against South Africa.
“At the meeting Angus Gardiner (referee of England v South Africa) was hung out to dry when it was said in front of all the coaches that that should categorically have been a penalty. And if that’s a penalty, this is three penalties.
“We had three disallowed tries and not one referral. Maybe we need to move Australia up to the northern hemisphere.”
Jones adopted the same line he has used throughout the autumn when asked for his view on the officiating of Farrell’s tackle by refusing to criticise the officials.
“You guys love the TMO, I don’t. I just accept whatever decision the TMO makes and that is the end of it,” said Jones.
“We have had some good decisions, we have had some bad decisions, we just accept them.
“Speak to Michael about it. I’m sure he’ll talk about it. Why talk to me about Michael Cheika?”
Cokanasiga ran in England’s third try as the poorest Australia team seen at Twickenham for some time began to fall apart and the 21-year-old Bath powerhouse almost added a second with a brilliant catch and run.
Jones added: “Joe’s just starting. He’s still got his training pants on. Wait until he gets proper pants.
“He’ll be able to play a bit. He’ll definitely get them. He’s going shopping now.”
Apart from losing their way in the second quarter, England dominated the Cook Cup showdown with man of the match Kyle Sinckler, Jonny May and Cokanasiga outstanding.
Victory was secured against one of the poorest Wallaby teams seen at Twickenham in recent years, the tourists enfeebled by the loss of David Pocock to a neck injury and tumultuous build up due to senior players Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper being disciplined for bringing women back to their hotel rooms.
Among the biggest roars of the afternoon was reserved for Manu Tuilagi, who finally made his first Test appearance for two years as a final-quarter replacement having overcome a groin strain.
It took just 133 seconds for England to take the lead as Mark Wilson broke from a rapidly advancing scrum and fed Ben Youngs, who took a few steps before supplying May with a simple try.
Australia ran aimlessly at times with only the kicking of Matt Toomua asking any questions before that disallowed try.
A brilliant line taken by the gliding Israel Folau helped narrow the gap to three points, but he found the hole between Farrell and Maro Itoje too easily amid a general decrease in defensive aggression from Eddie Jones’s men.
Once a large scuffle had died down early in the second half, England surged back in front with a try out of nothing, Farrell seeming to run out of options until Daly began a perfectly-timed run that saw his raw pace sweep him over the whitewash.
Daylight was opened up when an attack down the left was revived by a weak tackle from Haylett-Petty, who bounced off Cokanasiga to create a gap that the powerful Bath wing sped through.
The result was sealed when Farrell sped through a vast hole in Australia’s disintegrating defence, before Folau had the final say in injury time with a consolation effort.
3 Number of wins England have claimed from four games this autumn, their only defeat coming against New Zealand.
IMPACT PLAYERS: Owen Farrell celebrates scoring England’s fourth try which put the seal on an emphatic win. Inset, Joe Cokanasiga, crossed the try line for his second-half score against Australia.