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Jamie George's warning to Ireland despite England flop in Scotland

By Liam Heagney
Jamie George during Saturday's England defeat to Scotland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

New England skipper Jamie George has issued a warning to Grand Slam favorites Ireland ahead of the March 9 Guinness Six Nations fixture in London. The English visited Edinburgh on Saturday looking to build on the promising start of two successive wins at the start of the tournament for the first time since 2019.

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However, their winning streak was brutally ripped asunder by the clinical finishing of Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe, whose 25-minute hat-trick in their comfortable 30-21 win was the first ever by a Scottish player in the history of the Calcutta Cup.

The result exposed the brittle optimism that respective three and two-point wins over Italy and Wales in the recent weeks were somehow a definite sign that England were building on the bronze medal finish secured at last October’s Rugby World Cup after they reached the semi-finals via the weaker side of the draw.

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Felix Jones’ blitz defence has yet to bed in properly; England have now conceded eight tries in three matches since the ex-Springboks assistant took the defence coach role from Kevin Sinfield at the top of the year.

Next time out they come up against an Ireland attack that has so far scored 15 tries in its three matches in the current campaign. On paper, it appears to be a mismatch, with England tipped to become the latest casualty in the much-predicted Irish run to their first-ever back-to-back Grand Slam titles.

Defence

150
Tackles Made
105
22
Tackles Missed
19
87%
Tackle Completion %
85%

However, the 33-year-old George, a veteran of numerous past wins over Ireland, departed Scottish Gas Murrayfield insisting that England can somehow climb off the canvas and cause Andy Farrell’s Irish real grief in London. “The fact that we are back at Twickenham is very exciting to me,” he suggested.

“We have spoken a lot about the record we want to create at Twickenham, how hard a place it needs to be for opposition to come to, and that is very much going to be the focus.

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“Ireland are a great team, we know that. They have shown that the last few weeks, the last few months, couple of years. But we are going to be a very tough team to beat at Twickenham.”

England were shredded on social media following the manner of their latest loss to Scotland. Just once in the last seven Calcutta Cup games have the English been victorious, the Scots winning five encounters and drawing another 38-all in 2019 after trailing 0-31.

With a starting team showing five changes from the round two win over Wales, England jumped 10-0 ahead just 15 minutes into Saturday’s renewal in Edinburgh, but they were swept aside by Duhan van der Merwe 25-minute try hat-trick and their catch-up effort was generally viewed as unimpressive.

George, though, was adamant that upset England fans still have reason to cheer despite the gloomy nine-point defeat. “I hope they saw the same level of fight and commitment we showed over the last couple of weeks,” he suggested when asked what message he had for his country’s supporters.

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“The foundations are good but, as players, we need to be better, we need to execute the game plan better – we’re fully aware of that. We knew it was going to be difficult coming up here, the history that goes into the game. We weren’t good enough.

“One thing hopefully the fans saw in the first 20 minutes of the game is a blueprint for English rugby, how we want to play as a team. It’s now about our ability to back that up for 80 minutes.

“If you look at our run of form over the last nine or 10 games, we won a lot of those last games, so yes I can understand it [the frustration].

“If you look at the more global picture of where we are at as a team, how we’re performing and where we are progressing to, if you take a step back and look at it as a whole, there are a lot of positive signs. Do we need to get better? Absolutely. Are we doing everything we can to do that? Yes.

“There certainly was an element where we needed more composure off the back of turnovers. We got Scotland under a lot of pressure, turned them over quite a lot but we needed more composure to get into the right position because you can never doubt our intent on the ball.

“That was frustrating. The nice thing is we can make sure we fix that and put some emphasis on that over the next couple of weeks.”

That fix-up will commence on Wednesday with England due to hold a half-week camp that includes an open training in York. For George, the next few days away before that assembly will be timely as it was only on February 14 that his mother Jane sadly passed away.

“We’re assembling again on Wednesday. It’s important that everyone gets some time off in these breaks. Test rugby can be pretty cruel at times; we saw that (at Murrayfield). It’s important for everyone to spend some time with their families.”

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Poorfour 10 hours ago
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