Eddie Jones claims England ‘could have declared at half-time’ such was their dominance over Ireland

Jack de Menezes
Eddie Jones hailed England's dominance over Ireland in their Six Nations encounter: AP

An emboldened Eddie Jones claimed England’s first-half domination over Ireland meant they “could have declared” at the break, such was their stranglehold on the eventual 24-12 Six Nations victory.

England led 17-0 at half-time thanks to George Ford and Elliot Daly tries that stemmed directly from Irish errors, with the pressure being applied on Andy Farrell’s side proving too much to handle. Luke Cowan-Dickie added a team effort in the second half to secure the win, with his effort from a driving maul sandwiched between Irish tries from Robbie Henshaw and Andrew Porter to give the scoreline a respectable angle that it certainly did not deserve.

“We played with a lot of control,” hailed Jones, whose side can still win the championship if France slip up over the final two weekends and Wales and Italy both go the same way as Ireland did. “We read the conditions well, read the referee well and at half-time if it was a cricket game, we could have declared.

“We've been building up. I got the preparation wrong for the France game and apologised for that. But we were good against Scotland, really good against Scotland in difficult conditions and we took another step up today and will take another step up when we play Wales.”

The comprehensive victory backed up Jones’s claim that his side are returning to the performance levels they set in Japan at the World Cup, yet after receiving plenty of criticism for his decision to select four players outside of their natural position, Jones was happy to take a thinly-veiled swipe at his critics and particularly those within the media.

“Look I don't need vindication,” he said. “I pick the team that I think is right for the week and you guys (the media) are so clever, you're all clever so I've just got to suck it all up, enjoy what you say, try to learn from you, and maybe I can pick a better team next week.

"There's a lot (more to come). We played tough the first 40 minutes, probably took our foot off a little bit in the second half but they were always going to get some ball, they were always going to get some referee's calls and we had to defend pretty well, which we did.”

France remain favourites to win the Six Nations as they are now the only side capable of claiming a Grand Slam, though Fabien Galthie’s side will need to see off Scotland in round four before taking on Ireland in their pivotal final match on 14 March. But Jones refused to look too far ahead, insisting that Les Bleus do not figure in his thinking and that they will prepare solely to face Wales in a match where the magnitude of the occasion speaks for itself.

“We were disappointed to give that try away at the end but we will need to be better against Wales,” Jones added. “We are not worried about France, we don't have to worry about France. The only thing England have got to worry about is playing well against Wales.

"We know every time England play Wales it's the biggest game there's ever been, so I don't expect next Saturday week to be any different.

"They are playing bit differently, a bit dangerous with the ball when they again get go forward. They are defending a little bit differently so we will have a closer look at them. We had a bit of a look at them yesterday and we will have another look at them again."

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