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Eddie Jones admits Jamie George mistake but stands by George Ford call

By PA
Eddie Jones /PA

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Eddie Jones admits the role his mismanagement of replacing Luke Cowan-Dickie played in England’s dramatic 20-17 defeat by Scotland.

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Cowan-Dickie was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on that prevented Darcy Graham from scoring a probable try in a tense final quarter of the Guinness Six Nations opener at Murrayfield.

Instead of bringing on Jamie George as specialist hooker cover, Jones kept his back row intact only for the decision to backfire when it meant prop Joe Marler had to throw in at the line-out.

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Marler’s throw failed to travel five metres and from the resulting scrum England conceded a penalty which Finn Russell used to land the match-winning kick.

“We thought we could wait for a scrum because we wanted to keep the back rowers on at that stage,” Jones said.

“Scotland were moving the ball around well. We thought we needed that third back rower on. Certainly I take the blame for that.”

Jones is satisfied with his contentious decision to take off the outstanding Marcus Smith, however, amid criticism of his withdrawal of the 22-year-old playmaker.

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Smith scored all 17 of England’s points and had just finished a dynamic try and landed a penalty when he was substituted for George Ford.

Eddie Jones
Edde Joness /PA

It was a risky call to take off his increasingly-influential fly-half and England duly unravelled as a 17-10 lead was overturned first by Cowan-Dickie’s penalty try and then Russell’s penalty.

“It’s a 23-man squad. We felt George could come on and do a job for us in the last 20 minutes,” said Jones when asked to explain the substitution.

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For the third consecutive year England have opened the Six Nations with a defeat in a major setback following a successful autumn that ended with victory over world champions South Africa.

The next assignment is Sunday’s trip Italy and Jones insists the plan remains the same despite the inability to turn their dominance at Murrayfield into a win.

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“This doesn’t change anything. In the next game we’ll get as many points as we can,” he said.

“And then the next game we’ll get as many points as we can, the next game we’ll get as many points as we can and then we’re in the last game and if we’re in the hunt for the trophy, all well and good.

“If we’re not then we’ll have played some good rugby. Obviously we want to win the competition but this doesn’t change our approach to the competition.”

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