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What was more surprising from England’s defeat against Wales on Saturday: that they failed with all of the few chances they had to cross the try line, or that Eddie Jones was delighted with it?
The England head coach was in a buoyant mood following the 13-6 defeat, which saw Warren Gatland’s side score the only try of the match and negate their opposition’s attacking talents into a minute by-product of an intense yet low-scoring affair. Had they turned up attacking-wise, England could have salvaged not only a draw from their trip to Cardiff if they converted the last-minute driving maul, but a victory was distinctly possible had the Maro Itoje and Anthony Watson breaks gone rewarded.
Instead, Wales’s fully-committed defence managed to shackle them and emerge with the momentum-building victory that brought the No 1 world ranking with it.
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But England may have a trick up their sleeve if Jones’s demeanour afterwards is anything to go by. Following all seven of England’s previous defeats in the 41 matches under the Australian’s tenure, Jones has taken the blame in failing to prepare the team sufficiently to tackle the task at hand, but there was none of that this time around.
“Today was almost the perfect World Cup prep game for us,” he said. “We deliberately set it up, putting our young team out to test their mentality. I thought they handled it well.
“They went in at half-time and we had to show plenty of fight because everything was going their [Wales’s] way, the penalty county was 8-2, they were getting the rub of the green, the bounce of the ball, we had to find a way to get back in the game and I was really pleased with the way that we did. Those are the best World Cup prep games.”
Selection is not the only thing that Jones has held back so far. On Saturday we got a first glimpse of ca
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