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'Dinosaur tactics': Eddie Jones' tactical substitutions under the microscope after loss

By Sam Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Marcus Smith’s first start in the Six Nations as England’s flyhalf looked on course to be a successful one after he had scored all 17 of his side’s points with a quarter of the game to go.

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A penalty goal to take the lead out to 17-10 would be Smith’s last involvement in the match, as Eddie Jones took off his starting 10 in favour of George Ford finishing the match.

The decision was just one of a few puzzling substitutions, with Smith a proven match-winner in the Autumn after he orchestrated one last England possession into kicking range before getting the penalty to kick the winning goal against South Africa.

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Eddie Jones also left reserve scrumhalf Harry Randall on the pine and substituted Jack Nowell into the game just for the final play, which confused fans.

When Luke Cowan-Dickie was in the sin bin, prop Joe Marler had to make a lineout throw without reserve Jamie George yet the pitch, who was brought onto the field once a scrum was required.

With Ford on the field, England turned down a longer range three point attempt that would have drawn the game with three minutes to go from 40-metres out near the touchline. Instead, the kicked to touch around the edge of the 22 and lost the ensuing lineout contest.

On the final scrum which had to be reset multiple times, a final penalty wasn’t forthcoming forcing England to play with the ball. It was turned over quickly by Darcy Graham and kicked into the Murrayfield stands to end England’s chances of coming away with a draw or last chance win with a try.

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England fans were perplexed with the management of the bench in the aftermath, calling Jones’ decisions ‘dinosaur tactics’ with ‘weird ideas’. Another fan said the decision to substitute Smith with Ford had ‘zero logic’.

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On the decision Eddie Jones explained that he thought a fresh George Ford could lift England at that point in time.

“We just thought George could lift the game a little bit. Marcus played well and we’re really happy with his performance but it is a 23-man game,” he said.

“We are massively disappointed we have lost,” he added, adopting a more serious reflection on the round one loss.

“Scotland deserved to win but I thought we dominated a lot of the game… but if you dominate you have got to get points and you have got to get enough ahead of the opposition.

“The result is the result. It is tough for us to start the tournament like that. We had a really good preparation and played with a lot of purpose, a lot of drive and a lot of determination.”

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