Rugby World Cup 2019: England boss Eddie Jones sees room for improvement

By John Skilbeck 22 September 2019 54
Rugby World Cup 2019: England boss Eddie Jones sees room for improvement

Eddie Jones said he was "pretty happy" after England began their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 35-3 victory over Tonga in Sapporo.

After a slow start, England began to find their stride as they won comfortably in their opener.

Improvements will be needed if England are to emerge as genuine trophy contenders, but for a first outing in Japan, Jones was satisfied.

At times he looked to be playing every ball as he watched on, and he admitted: "You have plenty of emotion in the box."

But when he considered the eventual outcome, a hefty winning margin and no tries conceded, Jones said that before the game he "would be pretty happy" with that.

Asked if he would like to see England step up the pace of the game, he said: "We'd have liked to, but that's rugby. It sometimes happens like that. We had to travel hard today.

"I was particularly pleased at the end of the game when we were under the pump a bit and we defended really well. That's two Tests now where we haven't conceded a try so I was pretty happy with that.

"We'd like to be sharper with the ball and that'll come, but I was really pleased with the effort of my players, how they worked hard. And what a great effort by Tonga, they fought really hard."

Manu Tuilagi was named the player of the day after his two-try performance, and the England centre said: "It was a tough game, but we knew coming into this game that Tonga would be a tough test for us. We managed to get the five points and it's a great start for our campaign.

"[I didnt get] as much ball as I would have wanted but the main thing is the team got a good win and a good start."

He admitted that "discipline sometimes let us down a little bit" and recognised there would be plenty to analyse on Monday.

But with England's second game coming up on Thursday against the United States, the team will be looking forward more than back.

"It's going to be another tough game and now we're finished with Tonga all our focus will be on the USA," Tuilagi said.

England captain Owen Farrell also saw room for improvement but predicted better displays would come later in the tournament.

Farrell said: "[There is] a lot to work on; a lot to build on. But to come away with a bonus-point win is always a good start to a World Cup.

"Tonga are obviously a very physical team. I thought we chased well and got some good opportunities off the back of it. There's still some mistakes that we could look at and get rid of. We've still got a lot more in us.

"We probably need to get it in our hands a bit earlier and look after it a bit better, but to get the bonus-point win and come away with the four tries is good for us."

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu said his team's aim was to target England fly-half George Ford.

"We just didn't get it in the right part of the field to throw those punches," Kefu said. "They pressured our set-piece and we ended up on the back foot a lot. I thought we did all right in the scrums, considering. I thought in the first half we did well to hang in there."

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John Skilbeck