'They need to learn how to handle situations': England's youngsters taught a lesson says Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones says less-experienced England players will learn valuable lessons from their 23-19 victory over Wales, where they led 17-0 but ended up hanging on desperately at the end as the visitors probed for a match-winning try.
Two more Smith penalties opened it again but Kieran Hardy’s late try enabled Wales to regather the ball as the clock hit 80 minutes and the hosts had to stand firm against a wave of attacks before eventually winning a decisive turnover.
“There was plenty of resilience and toughness,” Jones said. “We had a period of 10 minutes where we were untidy in our defence. We knocked off for that quick tap try, which was disappointing. Then the last five minutes were exceptional.
“We got ourselves into a lot of attacking positions and weren’t able to convert them into points and for a young team we need to learn how to do that. We should have been more clinical when we’re down there.
“But we’ve got nine, 10 and 15 (halfback Harry Randall, five-eighth Smith and fullback Freddie Steward) who have played under 10 caps, and a number eight (Dombrandt) just out of university.
“They are young guys and they need to learn how to handle situations.”
Jones kept man of the match Smith on for the entire game, saying “he just keeps on developing” but directed most of his praise towards his most experienced player as Ben Youngs came off the bench for his 115th appearance to become England’s most-capped player.
“It is a great achievement and it’s testament to his great work ethic,” he said of the 32-year-old scrumhalf who made his debut 12 years ago.
England are now on 10 points after an opening defeat by Scotland then wins over Italy and Wales and now host Ireland before completing the campaign with what they hope will be a title decider against France in Paris.
Jones, as ever, declined to look too far ahead, saying: “All I know is that there are probably three teams who can win it and we’re one of them and I’d rather be in our position than those who can’t.”
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