ENGLAND HEAD COACH Eddie Jones made every effort to be magnanimous after suffering his first defeat in the role, but the cheeky grin was never far off either.
The Six Nations champions were denied a second straight Grand Slam by a fired-up Ireland performance which yielded a 13 - 9 home win in Dublin tonight.
The embodiment of the Irish effort was blindside Peter O’Mahony, who was given a late promotion to the starting line-up because of a hamstring injury suffered by Jamie Heaslip in the warm-up.
Asked whether the back row reshuffle had disrupted England’s gameplan, Jones shrugged off by the suggestion, nodding to ‘slight alterations’ in the line-out. However, the Australian coach did suggest that the Munster captain was better suited to the conditions than Heaslip.
“O’Mahony is a fantastic player and those conditions probably suited him better than Heaslip who is probably more a top of the ground type player,” said Jones, before being asked whether he felt the late change was a deliberate tactic from Ireland.
‘I don’t really care mate. We’ve got to play against the 15 that’s out on the field. If they want to do that then that’s fair enough. Maybe a leprechaun tackled him the warm-up… I dunno.”
As for the end of England’s 18-game winning run along with his own unbeaten record in charge of the red rose, Jones says it proved his squad were human.
You have these days. Ireland played superbly and they were too good for us on the day and we weren’t good enough.”
“We’re all human beings and we’re not perfect and that’s why world records finish at 18 games or 17 games. It’s so hard to keep going because you get a team on the day that performs above themselves and we were below ourselves. They used the conditions superbly and we probably didn’t and you get a result like you did today, 13-9.
“I thought our effort today was good – I thought Ireland played superbly. Ireland played really well – I thought we had them after half-time, they started to kick indiscriminately and we got some back to back positions. In the first half we couldn’t get our hands on the ball and when we did we gave it back to them.
“The players handled it really well – they were just too good for us today it happens sometimes. We will be better for that. I am happy with their performance.”
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