England coach Eddie Jones has hailed his side’s defence as their best form of attack after a 19-7 victory over New Zealand ensured their place in the Rugby World Cup final.
Manu Tuilagi’s early try paved the way for an exceptional display from England in Yokohama on Saturday, as they ended the All Blacks’ chances of winning an unprecedented third World Cup in a row.
Captain Owen Farrell added the extras to Tuilagi’s score, with George Ford putting England 10-0 up at half-time and, although New Zealand rallied through Ardie Savea’s try, Ford’s pinpoint kicking ensured victory.
England will now face either Wales or South Africa in their first World Cup final appearance since 2007 and Jones singled out his side’s defensive grit as the key factor in their triumph.
“We’re playing a great team, Steve Hansen, a great coach, Kieran Read’s a great captain. We had to dig deep,” Jones said.
“We knew we’d have to come off the line and we managed to do that. We caused a few errors, may have had a few lucky bounces and got the result.
“The World Cup is always about defence and our best form of attack is our defence. We create opportunities through our defence to attack.
“Greatest compliments to New Zealand, they’ve won two World Cups in a row, they’re a great team and we really had to dig deep to beat them.”
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 26, 2019
Jones also highlighted the work of his assistants Steve Borthwick and Neal Hatley after England’s pack put in a disciplined display.
“If you try to play New Zealand at their game you’re going to come off second best,” Jones, who is unconcerned by any “favourites” tag ahead of the final, told ITV Sport.
“We probably missed a couple of opportunities to score but I thought the discipline of our performance was great in both attack and defence.
“[The pack] played really well. Steve and Neal do a fantastic job with those forwards, really disciplined.
“We don’t bet, we don’t look at the bookies, so we’re not really concerned [about favourites]. Our expectation is the most important thing.”
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, meanwhile, conceded England were worthy winners, although he insisted the defeat takes nothing away from his side’s achievements.
“I’d like to congratulate England, they played a tremendous game of footy and, on the day, they deserved to win the game,” he said.
“You can’t give them half a step because they’ll take it and that’s what rugby is about. Well done to them.
“I’m really proud of our team, they’ve done tremendous graft for our country and we just weren’t good enough. We have to take it on the chin, so does everybody back home and our fans.”
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta