George Ford has warned England’s opponents they are creating the best defence in world rugby under the direction of John Mitchell and predicts they will deliver another suffocating performance against Wales in two weeks’ time at Twickenham.
That would clinch the Triple Crown for England thanks to their win over Scotland and today’s 24-12 destruction of Ireland who were pressured into numerous errors by the intensity of the defence Mitchell, the former All Blacks coach, has created.
Ford was part of a first-half defensive action that left Ireland bemused and unable to find any weaknesses and the Leicester outside half said: “We have had some good defensive performances since Mitch has been here but in terms of intensity, energy and relentlessness that was right up there as the best.
“There is more in us and second half the game lost some intensity and we made some decisions that meant we couldn’t build more pressure. The defence in the first half is where we want to be as a team and we need to deliver that for 80 minutes.
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“Wales seem to be moving the ball more and have some dangerous threats we need to be aware of and we need a defence system that regardless of who we play can handle most things.
“To be the best team in the world you need to base that on the best defence. The stuff that really stands you in good stead as a team is that the defence, the aerial battle and set-piece has to be as good as it can be to score points. Those foundations need to be in place. We felt first half we were pretty constant and relentless in the way we wanted to play and there is still more in us. It was a good strong performance.
“I said to Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje that they have a really tough job, carrying, tackling, doing the stuff in the loose and their tight work. Our job as backs is to give as much energy and take edges away from the opposition and that makes us very difficult to attack against.”
Ford scored from a Ben Youngs kick through and created Elliot Daly’s try with a kick of his own and admitted the pressure defences are creating opportunities for that type of score. “It is pattern at the minute,” added Ford. “Every scoring opportunity in matches seems to be coming from kicks with the game breaking up. The defences are getting so much better and covering more of the pitch that you have to try and break the game up with kicks.”
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