England coach Eddie Jones admitted that Ireland deserved their win as his side failed to seal back-to-back Grand Slams in Dublin on Saturday.
Indiscipline cost England on the rare occasions they generated momentum against a ferocious Ireland, the boot of fly-half Jonathan Sexton punishing them with penalty points or kicks deep into their own half.
The same opponents now stand in England’s way of edging ahead of New Zealand in the record books. “With clarity you get belief and with belief you then just stick to that game plan”, Youngs said. “I didn’t prepare the team well”, he said. “Obviously we’re disappointed not to win this final game because we had high hopes, we had high expectations of ourselves”, added the hooker. However that lead didn’t last long as sloppy play by Ireland let England back in when Owen Farrell slotted over to level the scores.
A key skill to winning the World Cup will be coping with pressure of expectation, Jones said.
Asked what he’d told his side at full-time, Jones replied: “Be proud of yourselves boys”.
They were stodgy in the autumn and have been inconsistent in the Six Nations, as woeful in Scotland as they were excellent when emotionally-charged on home soil against England and Ireland.
“Sometimes you play against a team that’s better than you and they were better than us today”. “Last year we were nervous and I expect us to be nervous this year”.
“The most frustrating thing was that maybe we didn’t play the way we wanted to”.
“Not many teams have a 90% record, but we have a pretty good average: Don Bradman had a zero in his final Test”.
Slimani had earlier been replaced but he was allowed back on when Atonio went off for a head injury assessment. The need to make amends paid rich dividends for both Wales and England last week, now it is Ireland’s turn to bounce back.
England now hold that record with New Zealand after they won their 18 straight match when they dismantled Scotland last weekend, but Jones’ side will want to hold the mark on their own by seeing off the Ireland challenge.
He said: “If you look at the best team in the world and how they react to a loss, they always come back bigger and better and that’s the focus for us”.
England coach Eddie Jones at the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ireland had ended the All Blacks remarkable run in Chicago late past year and proved the stumbling block for England in Dublin.
Before the November Tests he stressed that they could slip up just once in Cardiff this season.
Meanwhile Best, who labelled Sexton a “real warrior”, downplayed talk of deliberate late hits on the playmaker by saying: “I don’t think it was anything other than trying to put pressure on Johnny”.