England Extend Unbeaten Run
Eddie Jones' England extend unbeaten run with five-try victory over Wales
ENGLAND maintained their unbeaten record under Eddie Jones with a comprehensive five-try victory over Wales but the friendly threw up a huge question mark over whether George Ford should start against the Wallabies next month.
The Bath stand-off, knocked sideways by the sacking of his father Mike as head coach at The Rec, was booed by the Twickenham crowd after missing six kicks out of seven and his late substitution drew ironic cheers.
Owen Farrell's availability for the three-Test series will mask Ford's goalkicking problems, but after being carried to a degree by Farrell in the Six Nations, he remains so far short of his best that Jones is coming under pressure with his playmaker strategy for the Australia series.
Farrell has driven Saracens to the Double commandingly from No10 and with Luther Burrell making a tryscoring return for England yesterday in the No12 shirt, it may be time for another England midfield reshuffle at Ford's expense.
"I've seen Tiger Woods miss putts, Michael Jordan miss jump shots, everyone has a bad day and he had a bad day kicking but the rest of his play was brilliant," insisted Jones, who described the crowd response as "not very nice".
"He's a tough boy. I'm not worried about him. Everyone has experiences which aren't pleasant but he will be fine.
"The bottom line was that we scored five tries of which one was a bit 'how's your mother' and the other four were scored by the backs. If you score four backs' tries against Wales your stand-off must be doing something right."
The 'how's your mother' try - from Jack Clifford in the 47th minute - was the pivotal score on which the game turned in that it moved England into clear water at 22-13.
The Harlequins back row raced from halfway to score when the ball had broken loose after Dan Cole had attempted to intercept a pass from Dan Biggar.
Wales coach Warren Gatland claimed afterwards it should have been disallowed by TV official Simon McDowell for a knock-on by Cole.
"There was no attempt to try to catch the ball," said Gatland. "It was a pretty important decision at a pretty vital time in the game."
Dan Biggar was particularly incensed, knocking the ball out of Ford's hands as he stood waiting to land the one kick he managed all afternoon from in front of the posts and then kicking it away in frustration. Biggar was still moaning about the decision to referee Marius Mitrea after the final whistle.
"I didn't like how Biggar went on after that," said Jones, but Gatland defended his stand-off, putting his response down to "passion".
The Wales coach is resigned to losing yesterday's stand-in captain Dan Lydiate for the tour to New Zealand with the hamstring and shoulder injuries which forced him from the field in the 24th minute. Ellis Jenkins is favourite to replace him.
Even without Farrell and a third of their Grand Slam starting line-up who were involved in the Premiership final 24 hours earlier, England were the superior side in a friendly which drew an 81,128 attendance.
of Maro Itoje and George Kruis have played, Joe Launchbury would not have been given the opportunity to deliver a storming man-of-the-match performance, helping to make a mess of the Wales lineout.
Wales, having dominated the opening quarter during which they scored their only try through Rob Evans, took a 13-10 lead into the break.
England had already served notice of their intent through two tries by Burrell, on his first appearance since being cut from the final World Cup squad, and Anthony Watson though and two more within three minutes shortly after half-time did the damage for England.
Ben Youngs stretched over for the first after using James Haskell and Marland Yarde as decoys as he arced around an attacking lineout, then came Clifford's contentious breakaway.
With the Welsh set-piece disintegrating, Yarde scored England's fifth try on the hour after Courtney Lawes had shrugged off Jamie Roberts to give the Harlequins room wing to squeeze in at the corner.
"I was surprised we won this game so easily," said Jones. "We needed to play a bit of rope-a-dope. We needed to take the punishment early on and then we wanted to play a bit of rugby after the first 20 minutes. The mix of what we did was quite good."
Jones confirmed he will name Manu Tuilagi's replacement for the tour today with Burrell favourite to edge out Ollie Devoto, who had only five minutes as a substitute to press his case.
"I'll have a chat to the two boys, have a chat to the coaches. Maybe I should have a chat to the crowd as well and find out what they think," said Jones, tartly.
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