Mako Vunipola England’s strongest ever travelling squad appear primed to challenge for the highest honours in wide-open tournament

Mako Vunipola England’s strongest ever travelling squad appear primed to challenge for the highest honours in wide-open tournament

Mako Vunipola This is another fancy add-on!!


Mako Vunipola Tom Curry. Photo: Getty Images
Tom Curry. Photo: Getty Images

Eddie Jones needs to stick to his game-plan, and keep Owen Farrell fit, says Ian McGeechan

Attitude: A+

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What has really impressed me about England during these warm-up games has been their patience. Whereas in the second half against Scotland in March they lost their heads and tried to force the pace, playing into Scotland’s hands with helter-skelter rugby, in these matches – and again it was in evidence against Italy at St James’s Park on Friday – England have been very disciplined.

Italy had lots of possession in that first half but England never panicked. They stuck to their game-plan, hitting their big men for one or two phases, forcing the Italian defence to consistently give ground.

Only then would they get the ball out to their strike runners. If nothing developed, England kicked in behind Italy. They invited Italy to counter, or even better, kick to touch, when they could really disrupt the Italy lineout. Defensively England were well organised. Preventing Italy from scoring from that 23-phase drive was a big moment and the “zero points conceded” tally at the end will have delighted Eddie Jones. And when Italy tired, England went to town. Most significantly, they kept the decision-making on the field. They did not need any direction from the stands.

Game-plan: A

There is a real tactical clarity about England, with their power game giving them such a solid platform. They have so many carriers. If three men are tied up in a ruck, they have another four or five they can hit short. And tha

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