Jones declares England will improve against Wales after downing Ireland


Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP)

England coach Eddie Jones forecast his side would be "10 percent better" against Wales after ending Ireland's bid for a Grand Slam with a 24-12 win in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Sunday.

Jones' men were a commanding 17-0 ahead at the interval thanks to tries from fly-half George Ford and full-back Elliot Daly.

Those scores were both converted by captain Owen Farrell -- the son of Ireland head coach Andy Farrell -- with the centre also adding a penalty in what was arguably England's best 40 minutes since their World Cup semi-final victory over New Zealand last year.

"We played with a lot of control, we read the conditions well, read the referee well and at half-time it was a cricket game, we could have declared," said Jones.

England lost their tournament opener away to France, the only side that can now complete a Grand Slam, in what was their first match since being beaten by South Africa in the World Cup final.

But Sunday's success, which saw England replacement Luke Cowan-Dickie score a second-half try in between scores from Ireland's Robbie Henshaw and Andrew Porter, revived their title hopes.

England welcome reigning champions Wales, smarting from a 27-23 defeat by France in Cardiff, to Twickenham when the Championship resumes on March 7.

"We took another step up today and we'll take another step up when we play Wales," said Jones.

"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."

- Sarcastic -

The former Australia and Japan coach added: "We're just fitter, we're able to play with more intensity and we will be better against Wales. We will have another 10 percent against Wales."

The Welsh are now being coached by Wayne Pivac, who succeeded Warren Gatland after his fellow New Zealander stood down last year after the World Cup.

"They are playing a bit differently, dangerous with the ball when they again get go we will have a closer look at them," said Jones.

England's third straight win over Ireland owed much to a colossal pack effort in which Jones said Courtney Lawes -- sporting a pre-match black eye worthy of a bout with new world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury -- and Maro Itoje were "outstanding".

But the Australian was in spiky mood when asked about the presence of five locks in his matchday 23.

"We are going to go for six locks next week (against Wales), give you something to write about," said a sarcastic Jones.

"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."

This was England's first match at Twickenham since they thrashed Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August.

"It was brilliant to be back at Twickenham, and I hoped everyone saw that in the way that we play," said Owen Farrell.

"We feel like we've put a good performance out today but there's still loads left in us, a lot left in us, and that's the exciting bit."

Much of the pre-match build up had focused on the fact that this was Andy Farrell's first match against Owen since becoming Ireland's head coach.

But Farrell junior insisted: "It's not any different from any other game I've ever played in."