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Jones slams referee over 'bizarre' Tuilagi red as England take Triple Crown

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Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP)

England coach Eddie Jones slammed referee Ben O'Keeffe for the "bizarre" sending off Manu Tuilagi late in a 33-30 win over Wales in the Six Nations Championship at Twickenham on Saturday that clinched the Triple Crown.

The outspoken Australian boss even suggested the match had ended as a contest of "13 against 16", implying New Zealand official O'Keeffe was biased in Wales' favour, with England two men down after replacement Ellis Genge was sin-binned and Tuilagi shown a red card.

World Cup finalists England were 33-16 ahead on the hour mark when Tuilagi scored their third try, but he saw red with five minutes remaining when he was deemed to have committed an illegal "no arms" tackle that stopped Wales wing George North scoring a try in the corner.

"I find it bizarre, I usually don't comment but I don't see how you can tackle a guy, how else are you supposed to tackle him?," Jones told reporters when asked about powerhouse centre Tuilagi's challenge on North.

"This bit about where your arms are -- what a load of rubbish. I think there's no common sense applied in that situation. It's absolute rubbish."

The former Australia and Japan coach added: "Clearly the guy's falling, there's a good chop tackle, Manu's coming over the top to kill the tackle and doing everything he's supposed to be doing – come on."

With England two men down, Wales scored tries in the closing minutes through fly-half Dan Biggar and Justin Tipuric, the flanker crossing for a second time.

"When you have a three-man advantage, it's going to do some damage so I thought we were exceptional," said Jones.

England captain Owen Farrell added: "I thought it was a brilliant fight. When Wales got some ascendancy, I thought it was very calm and collected about what we had to do next."

Grand Slam chasing France are in pole position to be crowned Six Nations champions but this win kept England in title contention.

However, their scheduled tournament finale against Italy in Rome on March 14 has been postponed due to the deadly coronavirus and no new date has been set for the Stadio Olimpico fixture.

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