6N: England wins ugly to begin title defence and set record

Violet Powell
February 5, 2017

The All Blacks set the mark of 18 past year before losing to Ireland in Chicago‚ and to match and surpass that mark‚ England would have to win the Grand Slam for the 14th time in their history.

Guy Noves' men looked in the mood for an upset early on and the hosts were fortunate not to be punished when Mike Brown appeared to take Noa Nakaitaci out after he chipped the ball towards the try-line. The French always have a big pack with a real good set-piece, and then you put their attacking flair on the back of that. It seems that, for once, Jones's message didn't get through to his players, as they looked below par for much of the first half at Twickenham.

"It's where all the National Football League players and all the top track athletes go to get faster and more agile and get better acceleration. Because it's here, right here in the head and it's not thinking we've done things right, it's not thinking we've done some great preparation, it's what we've got to do next".

With nine minutes left England were in full control and managed to hang until the end as an out on their feet France couldn't come up with a reply.

"The only thing that matters is we want to be Six Nations champions, and that starts now by beating Wales next week", he said.

However, in the short term, the Six Nations sides have to prepare for the opening weekend of games and several coaches face injury problems.

Many expected England not to be as sharp as they were given the losses of the Vunipola brothers, Robshaw and Anthony Watson, but I don't think anyone expected them to be as flat as they were in the opening 40 minutes at Twickenham on Saturday.

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However, they were far from their best and needed a 70th minute try from replacement centre Ben Te'o to snatch victory, continuing Les Bleus' misery at this ground where they have only won once this century.

England's Owen Farrell kicks a penalty. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time and we work a lot on that in training. We know England are a very efficient side with a direct approach and above all we are aware of the ferocity with which they play the game.

And that was in the old Five Nations‚ when they played only four matches.

Wales play Italy at 2pm today at the Stadio...

As for France, the last side to win consecutive Grand Slams back in 1998, they showed enough encouraging signs in defeats by Australia and New Zealand in November to give their supporters hope.

However, Jones rejected the idea that he selected the wrong team, despite choosing not to throw Haskell straight back into the mix and start Itoje in the second-row, having deployed the impressive Saracens lock at blindside flanker.

"It was a very good performance from us but we lose again", he said.

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