Wynne Gray: Eddie Jones got England to believe

Eddie Jones. Photo / Getty Images.
Eddie Jones. Photo / Getty Images.

How good was England's march to the Six Nations?

Not so much the manner of their victories but the way that rascal Aussie coach Eddie Jones directed England to an elusive title.

Jones, the man who has a PhD in provocative taunting and turned it on England in a previous life, rode into town and guided the side to their first Six Nations crown since 2011.

For those who criticised England hiring a foreign coach in the wake of their World Cup meltdown, Jones delivered a triumphant reposte. He brought a plan and got his players to believe. At times England won ugly and at other stages they struggled.

However they kept winning and in their toughest inquiry they held off a fast-finishing Wales 25-21 at Twickenham and then claimed all the competition honours when Scotland beat France 29-18.

England will now chase a Grand Slam in Paris, a title they last won in 2003 when they were in their pomp and headed for their solitary World Cup triumph.

For an hour England were in total command against Wales but then lost their way. Jones wondered whether that lack of finishing bite happened because he had gone to his bench too early.

"We stopped attacking them and tried to protect the lead, but if someone had said five months ago that we would be 25-7 up against Wales after an hour, we would have been very happy," he said. "It is just about making better decisions in the last 20 minutes and it was nothing to do with fitness."

England's upgrade comes with all sorts of intrigue.

Bad boy Dylan Hartley's upgrade to captain, the rejuvenation of Chris Robshaw and Dan Cole, the rise of impressive tyro lock Maro Itoje, the midfield choices after Manu Tuilagi's injury recovery and the thrust on the wing from Anthony Watson.

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