Solomona has the 'X-factor' says Jones

Sun, 11 Jun 2017 13:09
Large eddie jones and denny solom

REACTION: England coach Eddie Jones justified calling up New Zealand-born former Rugby League star Denny Solomona by saying he possessed the X-factor. 

The 23-year-old debutant wing proved his handler right this weekend by scoring a superb try to give his adopted country a 38-34 triumph over Argentina in a first Test thriller.

With England trailing 34-31 and one minute left in western city San Juan, Jones must have been preparing for a second successive loss after a narrow defeat in Ireland last March.

Solomona, whose missed tackles after coming off the bench had led to two Pumas tries, knew it was now or never at a near-full 25 000-seat Estadio Bicentenario.

The 23-year-old from Auckland eluded one Argentinian, then another, and a third before darting away from the cover defence to dot down between the posts.

Outstanding flyhalf George Ford, who missed only one of eight shots at goal and scored a try, converted to complete the scoring in an exciting seesaw struggle.

"Denny committed two horrendous errors in defence, but made up with a brilliant try," was the reassuring message to the newcomer from Australia-born Jones.

"He is going to do plenty of defensive work before the second Test," the coach added after a match in which both teams scored four tries.

Since replacing Stuart Lancaster as England coach after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Jones has won 18 of 19 Tests.

Victory was achieved with a run-on team containing just four survivors from the side that started in Dublin, primarily due to British and Irish Lions call-ups.

The triumph thrilled Jones, who coached Japan to a stunning win over South Africa at the last Rugby World Cup.

"I thought it was an incredible game of rugby," he told reporters after England extended a winning streak against Argentina to seven matches.

"For our guys to win was a tremendous effort. I think we had 10 new caps on the field at the finish.

To show poise and stick to what we needed to do in the circumstances was an unbelievable effort from the young guys.

"When you are playing a full-strength Argentina team, that is a great effort. I think it is one of the best team efforts I have been associated with."

Jones praised debutant flank Tom Curry, at 18 the youngest player to start for England since 1927.

"I thought young Curry did well. He made some errors but got on with it. That was the good thing about the team - they just got on with it.

"We came here to win the series 2-0 and that is what we are going to do," vowed Jones.

"The big thing for young players is being able to back it up. It is not easy to have one good performance, but good players back performances up."

Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade must be encouraged that his team, who have battled playing as the Jaguares in Super Rugby this season, lifted their game dramatically.

Santa Fe will host the second and final Test next Saturday.

Agence France-Presse