Fresh off the bench: England’s Ben Te’o beats the France defence to go over for the try that settled the match. Picture: REUTERS
Fresh off the bench: England’s Ben Te’o beats the France defence to go over for the try that settled the match. Picture: REUTERS

London — England coach Eddie Jones promised to do a better job after his "awful" Grand Slam champions launched the defence of their Six Nations title with a scrappy 19-16 win over France at Twickenham.

France had much the better of the play but England, yet to lose under Australian boss Jones, were able to grind out an "ugly" win as they secured a national record 15th consecutive Test victory.

The visitors were 16-12 up on the hour, when replacement prop Rabah Slimani went over for a try France had long threatened. But in the end, it was England’s bench strength that proved decisive, with replacement back Ben Te’o’s try nine minutes from time giving England a lead extended by Owen Farrell’s conversion.

"It is always good to win when you do not play well and we did not play well," Jones said. "I take full responsibility for
the performance."

The former Australia and Japan coach added: "I thought we were awful, but I thought we were always going to win the game and that is what I like about these boys. They have got a never-say-die attitude."

Jones sent on several replacements after Slimani’s try, with back-row James Haskell, returning after a broken toe and Auckland-born Te’o, whose maiden Test try came just moments after he took the field, making the biggest impact.

"The bench definitely made a difference," Jones said. "Haskell, for a guy that has played 35 minutes and 35 seconds this year was brilliant and Ben Te’o did really well for us, too."

As for France, Jones said: "I think they are selecting right, they’ve got a big physical team and they are starting to understand how to make modern French flair. I did not prepare the team well enough," said Jones.

"I have got a lot of homework to do over the weekend."

England’s next game is against Wales on Saturday.

"England versus Wales in Wales, can you believe the Test record? Sixty percent of the Tests have been won by Wales and 40% won by England. I’ve been to the Principality Stadium and it’s just another ground," said Jones. "So I need to work out why the English don’t play well in Wales."

Victory maintained England’s bid for back-to-back Grand Slams and saw them top the previous Red Rose record of 14 straight wins they had shared with Clive Woodward’s celebrated 2003 side, who went on to win that year’s World Cup
by beating an Australia team coached by Jones in the final.

But cricket buff Jones insisted: "Records don’t mean anything. You score a hundred in a Test and next day get out for a duck. We want to be Six Nations champions and that starts now by beating Wales next week and that is the only thing that
matters. If we win the Six Nations, I will stand up here and do handstands. I will be that happy."

AFP

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