By Mitch Phillips
LONDON, February 6 (Reuters) – There were echoes of the 2019 World Cup final on Saturday as England coach Eddie Jones and captain Owen Farrell looked utterly puzzled at how their team failed managed to perform as they were totally dominated by Scotland and fell to 11-6 loss.
The excited Scots earned the applause with their first victory at Twickenham in 38 years, but the game was a story of doom for the toothless defending champions and the only saving grace was that there weren’t the usual 82,000 fans in the famous old land to witness it.
The scoreboard flattered England, who never looked like they could score a try and barely started the Scottish 22 game. Visitors took advantage of 63% possession and 59% territory. They conceded six penalties to England’s 15, missed eight tackles to England’s 27 and made five line breaks against the slightly embarrassing draw of the 2019 World Cup finalists.
On this occasion, at least South Africa’s total melee dominance explained England’s inability to compete, but on Saturday there was nothing quite so obvious.
“We just couldn’t find a way to get into the game,” Jones said. “On a day like this, the set piece will always be important, the competition in the air will be important, the winning lines will be important, and we won’t be able to win any of those areas. Full-backs in this situation become almost secondary. We just seemed to be out of rhythm.
“Sometimes you have those days and we had one today. Scotland played really well. They had a particular game plan that they stuck to and executed really well. We are responsible for the discipline issues. . “
Farrell scored England’s points with two penalties in the first half, but was unable to pull back as England struggled to build momentum.
“They put a lot of pressure on us at the start, managed to take the lead and it was difficult to get into the game. They kept us in our own half of the field,” he said.
“Every aspect of the game is linked. You can attack when you defend well and when you are disciplined and vice versa. We’ll take a look at the game and see where we can improve. There are a few that are pretty obvious.”
One of those is England’s shocking penalty count, which hit double the numbers in the first 35 minutes.
“Sometimes it’s almost like you’re trying too hard,” Farrell said. “There was no theme for penalties, there were a lot of different individual. We’ll have to see what we can all do better and improve, which in turn makes the team better. be under pressure but we have to be able to deal with it. “
England will expect to regain their offensive verve at Twickenham next Saturday against Italy. However, Jones and the rest of the teams involved in the competition know that this game against the team France sidelined earlier will carry little weight.
“You never talk about a game like this, it will stay with you for a long time,” said the Australian. “But the most important thing is that we get together and find a way to improve our performance and play like England against Italy next week.”