Sean Farrell reports from the Aviva Stadium
THERE WERE NO grenades lobbed over post-match.
No need. The smoke had cleared to show a the spoils of an utterly dominant English display.
For Ireland the damage was more than the end of a potential Grand Slam defence. Four tries conceded, a first home Six Nations loss under Schmidt, the end of a 12-game winning run at the Aviva and crucial evidence for all rivals that the reigning champions can be made vulnerable.
“Some games are immensely physical, some more tactical,” began the quietly assured post-match appraisal from Eddie Jones.
“We went in there, we ripped in and shaded them a little bit in that area. Our intensity, particularly in the first part of the game, was outstanding.”
Joe Schmidt didn’t hold back in praising England’s physicality either, but their tactical execution was superb. Owen Farrell managed to continually exploit any hesitancy and inexperience in Robbie Henshaw’s arsenal as a fullback, and the defensive effort almost completely shut down his fellow Lions 10 Johnny Sexton so that even the boldest claim from England’s camp, that Ireland would bid to ‘bore the shit out of’ them, was not disproved.
Yet despite England’s wire-to-wire dominance of the game, Jones was not tempted to rub salt in Irish wounds.. He served this dish up cold.
If he came anywhere close to leaving a barbed comment in, it was directed at the assembled press when he was asked if he still viewed Ireland as the best in the world.
“I don’t think that changes in one game. Ireland have been consistently good. You guys are writing it so it must be true. My mother reads the paper and she believes everything you write.”
He added: “Joe is an outstanding coach. What I’m pleased for is our players. Our players deserve all the credit. They’ve worked hard, they’ve come together in the space of 10 days and they’ve played a good game of rugby today. They made their country proud.”
Henry Slade celebrates his try with Tuilagi Source: Gary Carr/INPHO
The Australian’s mention of that 10-day preparation window is noteworthy, because he felt it was a limiting factor for the scope of his gameplan.
Every coach will pick out areas for improvement even after a big win, but Jones promised improvements in attack after the bonus point win.
“We’ve just started coaching our attack and we’ll probably start building it up as we progress through the tournament. and we’ll just keep working on it.”
“I know the next (performance) is going to better. We’re a team that’s still growing, we’re nowhere near our best.
“We’re looking forward to playing better than that and we will.”