England still learning says Jones

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 07:23
Large eddie jones france v england 2018 800

REACTION: England head coach Eddie Jones insists his side are "two to three percent away" from where they need to be after their hopes of retaining the Six Nations title were extinguished in Paris.

After Ireland claimed a bonus point in a 28-8 victory over Scotland in Dublin, England needed to beat France later on Saturday and run in four tries to have any hope of winning a third successive crown.

However, they were duly beaten 16-22 by France, the visitors' ill-discipline – particularly at the breakdown – proving costly as Ireland were confirmed as champions.

Having suffered only one defeat in more than two years under Jones, England have now lost back-to-back Tests, this latest setback following a 13-25 reverse at the hands of Scotland in round three.

"It's a learning period for us," Jones told BBC Sport. "We're struggling with our game a little bit and we're learning from these games, and it's an important period for us.

"Whilst we're all disappointed, we're all gutted, we’ve got to make sure we learn from it and make sure we're stronger next time we play.

"We're about two or three percent away from where we need to be. We were beaten at the breakdown. We gave away 16 penalties, which is far too many, and when we got momentum we didn’t convert it to points. When they got momentum, they converted it to points.

"And it seems like [we are] a long way away, but it's not and you go through these periods as a team. We're going through a difficult period at the moment, but we’ll get through it."

Jones, who refused to criticise referee Jaco Peyper for awarding France a penalty try that ultimately proved decisive, insisted he was happy with the leadership shown by England's senior players in the absence of injured captain Dylan Hartley.

"I thought the leadership was outstanding," he added. "We didn't play well today, but we put ourselves back into a position where we could have won the game and probably should have won the game. We weren’t able to execute in those final minutes."

England were denied a Grand Slam by Ireland in the final round 12 months ago, but will now seek to turn the tables on Joe Schmidt's side at Twickenham next weekend.

"It’s an important game," said Jones. "We're disappointed we’re not in contention to win the tournament but we want to finish the tournament well."

By Christopher Devine, Rugbypass

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