Eddie Jones sets England’s sights on World Cup glory after demolishing Australia
Home side complete first unbeaten calendar year since 1992 as Jonathan Joseph and Ben Youngs run riot
Eddie Jones insisted England were “hell-bent” on becoming the world’s best side after ending a record-equalling year with a win over Australia.
Saturday saw England beat Jones’ native Australia 37-21 at Twickenham as they enjoyed their first unbeaten calendar year since 1992.
It was also their 14th successive victory, equalling the mark set by Clive Woodward’s World Cup-winning team in 2002-03.
Jones, however, insisted his sole focus was on lifting the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
England’s current winning sequence started at last year’s World Cup where a “meaningless” success over Uruguay came after Australia had knocked the tournament hosts out earlier in the group stage.
Jones replaced sacked coach Stuart Lancaster in November 2015 and has now won all of his first 13 tests as England boss, including a Six Nations grand slam and a 3-0 series success in Australia in June.
But Jones, Australia’s coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England, said his sole focus was on toppling reigning champions New Zealand – a team they next play in 2018 – in Japan in three years’ time.
“The only record we’re interested in is being the number one team in the world,” said Jones. “To do that you’ve got to win the World Cup.”
The former Japan coach added: “There’s clocks around [Twickenham] which say how many days until the World Cup final – 1,020 days. Every day counts.
“We’re only the number two team in the world and we want to be number one.
“We’ve got a long way to go before we achieve that. And we’re hell-bent on achieving that.”
Jones, well-placed to make a comparison, said his England side were not yet as good as the 2003 team.
“They were a much better side than we are at the moment. They could win any number of ways. We’re getting there.”
England were 10-0 down early on Saturday and saw inconclusive replays deny Australia two more potential tries.
But they hit back with four tries, two from centre Jonathan Joseph and one each from wing Marland Yarde and impressive scrum half Ben Youngs.
Sefa Naivalu’s early score and Sekope Kepu’s try 15 minutes from time weren’t enough for the Wallabies in a match where England centre Owen Farrell landed all his six goal kicks in a 15-point haul.
“In the second half we did the basics really well. To win the second half 24-5 is a pretty fair effort,” said Jones, who labelled Youngs’ display “masterful” and pointed to the form of No 8 Nathan Hughes, in for the injured Billy Vunipola, as a sign of England’s increasing strength in depth.
The lead-up to the game saw Jones and Wallaby counterpart Michael Cheika, once teammates at Sydney club Randwick, engage in plenty of verbal jousting.
But asked if he felt any extra joy from defeating Australia, Jones said: “Zero, mate. It’s just another game of test footy.”
For Australia, beaten finalists at the 2015 World Cup, this was a ninth defeat in 15 tests in 2016 – four of them by England.
Cheika has often labelled a year in which Australia fielded 13 debutants as “transitional” and he was in confident mood despite Saturday’s loss.
“I’m very positive about the team as a whole,” he said. “I’m seeing the improvements we’re making.”
Cheika rued Australia’s mistakes, saying they had been a feature of all their encounters with England this year.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) December 3, 2016
“They play a pressure, conservative style and in Australia they scored a lot of tries off errors.
“They play a really good solid game, are very well coached, and you don’t win 14 in a row out of luck.”
Australia’s bid to equal the 1984 Wallabies in completing a tour grand slam of wins over the four “Home Nations” ended with last week’s 27-24 defeat by Ireland.
But this tour also featured a test against France and Cheika agreed that five internationals in as many weeks was too heavy a schedule.
“We’ve made that point back home already,” he said. “Five tests are difficult but I don’t think that had anything to do with the performance tonight.”