Haskell backs Eng to be better for Dublin 'dry run'

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 06:12

REACTION: James Haskell believes England will be a better team after they again saw hopes of a Grand Slam end with a defeat in Dublin.

Already assured of the Six Nations title, England kicked-off against Ireland on Saturday just 80 minutes away from back-to-back Slams and a record 19th successive Test win by a major Rugby Union nation.

But at a rainswept Lansdowne Road, they were both out-thought and out-fought by Ireland, who won 13-9 and scored the game's only try through lock Iain Henderson.

The result meant England had suffered their first defeat under Eddie Jones but the Australian has always made it clear his ultimate goal with the side is to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Nevertheless, experienced back-row Haskell felt England were now a better team than a year ago for all that they failed to surpass world champions New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.

"I believe so," he said. "You can't win everything in rugby, you can't win forever. 

"No side in the world has done that, not even all the All Blacks," added the 31-year-old.

"You have days like this. If you've got a long-term project, which Eddie and his coaching staff do for 2019," explained Haskell, a veteran of 75 Tests.

"This is a dry run for other things to come. We've just got to learn from it."

Indiscipline cost England on the rare occasions they generated momentum against a ferocious Ireland, the boot of flyhalf Jonathan Sexton punishing them with penalty points or kicks deep into their own half.

For Haskell, one of five survivors in England's matchday 23 on Saturday who also saw their bid for a 2011 Grand Slam evaporate with a 8-24 defeat to Ireland in Dublin, it was all-too-familiar experience.  

"Credit to Ireland, they were the better team," he said.

"Field position played a big part in that. Every time we got near their half we would cause a mistake, a turnover or something and we would just be back in our half. 

"You’ve got to build pressure against a side like Ireland - and the pressure was all on us," he added.

As happened six years ago, England had the awkward experience of lifting the Six Nations trophy immediately after a defeat.

"I am a very competitive person, I hate losing , I don’t like celebrating any loss, but at the end of the day this team has come a long, long way," said Haskell.

"We've still won the Six Nations back-to-back."

One Englishman who played a key role in Ireland's victory was Andy Farrell.

The father of England's goalkicking centre Owen, Farrell senior is now Ireland's defence coach.

He was ditched from a similar position with England in a clear-out of backroom staff following their pool-phase exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup - a shake-up that paved the way for Jones to replace Stuart Lancaster as head coach.

"He’s a legend of a guy and a fantastic coach," said Haskell of Andy Farrell.

But Haskell added that player discipline rather than coaching input was a key factor in matches between leading nations.

"It's just down to whether teams have the discipline to play in the right areas," he said. 

"You can't build any pressure if you keep turning the ball over or keep giving penalties away."

Ireland, who ended the All Blacks' winning streak at 18 with a 40-29 victory in Chicago in November, boast a formidable home record.

They've yet to lose a Six Nations match at Lansdowne Road under Kiwi coach Joe Schmidt and have been beaten just twice in their last 18 internationals at the ground.

"We talked all week that it wasn't about stopping them [England] doing anything," said Ireland captain Rory Best.

"It was about us producing a performance that was worthy of this team, worthy of this crowd and worthy of this occasion," he added.

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 March 2017
Crusaders v Force 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Waratahs 08h45 Melbourne
Glasgow Warriors v Connacht 17h15 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Edinburgh 19h05 Parc y Scarlets
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Dragons v Ulster 19h35 Rodney Parade
Sat, 25 March 2017
Blues v Bulls 06h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Highlanders 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Stormers 10h55 Singapore
Kings v Lions 13h05 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 14h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Saracens v Bath 15h00 Allianz Park
Leinster v Cardiff Blues 15h00 RDS Arena
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 15h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Sharks 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Jaguares v Reds 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 26 March 2017
Wasps v Worcester Warriors 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Bristol v Gloucester 15h00 Ashton Gate
Mon, 27 March 2017
NWU-Pukke v UP-Tuks 14h45 Potchefstroom
Fort Hare v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Davidson Stadium
Wits v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Johannesburg
NMMU-Madibaz v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Bloemfontein
UWC v WSU 16h30 Cape Town
Maties v UJ 17h00 Stellenbosch
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 5 4 0 1 19
Ireland 5 3 0 2 14
France 5 3 0 2 14
Scotland 5 3 0 2 14
Wales 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 0