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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
PA Eddie Jones.
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Eddie Jones defends credentials as England head coach after South Africa loss
England’s sixth defeat from 12 Tests in 2022 made it their worst calendar year since 2008.

EDDIE JONES DEFENDED his credentials after he watched England produce a rudderless display to end a difficult 2022 with a 27-13 loss to South Africa at Twickenham.

Tries from Kurt-Lee Arendse and Eben Etzebeth either side of half-time helped the Springboks ease to a comfortable victory in west London with Faf de Klerk adding an 11-point haul while Damian Willemse kicked two drop goals.

World champions South Africa finished with 14 men after Thomas du Toit’s 61st-minute red card for a no arms tackle on Luke Cowan-Dickie but Henry Slade’s late score was all England could muster during a drab finale to the Autumn Nations Series.

It meant Jones’ side suffered another defeat, their sixth from 12 Tests in the calendar year, which is their worst run since 2008.

The Springboks’ dominance across the pitch was reminiscent of their 2019 World Cup final triumph and, despite England going backwards since their runners-up showing in Japan, their Australian head coach insisted they could have a “really good go” at next year’s tournament in France.

“We want to win. We don’t want to get beat by a big score to South Africa and don’t want to have the worst record since 2008 so it is a problem but I accept full responsibility for that,” Jones said.

“Obviously on results we are not happy but I feel like we are building a really good base to have a really good go at the World Cup, a really good go.

“A number of young players got great experience today and they’ll come back better players for that. We’ve got other players coming back to form, some of our more senior players and we’re not far away.

“We need to develop consistently. Test match rugby is all about consistency.”

It was an error-strewn display by England with captain Owen Farrell missing two simple penalties in the opening exchanges and the usually reliable Freddie Steward shaky under the high ball.

With South Africa typically strong in the forward areas, it was a case of deja vu for the World Cup runners-up who will turn their attention next to February’s Six Nations.

Captain Farrell added: “We couldn’t get a foothold in the game and we’re unbelievably disappointed about that.

“We felt good going into the game, felt sharp, felt together and felt like we knew what the plan was but we weren’t able to execute.

“We weren’t accurate enough in some bits and that was across the board. Obviously I played a role in that with the two missed easy kicks early on, so, yeah, we’re hurting.”

England saw Will Stuart (elbow), Marcus Smith (ankle) and Kyle Sinckler (hip) forced off with injuries in another bruising and humbling encounter with the Springboks.

“It was just one of those days where nothing seemed to go right,” Jones admitted.

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“It is a bit of a watershed game for us. We came into this game with high expectations of how we wanted to play on the back of New Zealand and Japan.

“If you look at the first three games, we have dominated territory and possession. If you look at this game, South Africa were a bit too tough in the air and a bit too tough at set-pieces so we know exactly where we need to improve.

“Selection-wise we are moving in the right direction.”

South Africa, who were without banned director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, needed the result as much as England after a challenging campaign that had seen them lose to France and Ireland but looked closer to their gnarling best.

Captain Siya Kolisi said: “I told the guys we have to enjoy moments like this because we don’t know if we’re going to make it to the World Cup, it could have been some guys’ last games but I thought it was special.”

Head coach Jacques Nienaber added: “It’s a tough place to get a result. It is Siya’s first result here and obviously mine so very special.”

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