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Tuesday 19 November 2019

Jones: Farrell was losing his edge

 

REPLACED: England captain Owen Farrell. Pic: PA
REPLACED: England captain Owen Farrell. Pic: PA

Eddie Jones has revealed he brought off Owen Farrell at a critical phase of Saturday's remarkable 38-38 draw with Scotland at Twickenham due to England's captain losing his "edge".

Farrell was replaced by George Ford in the 71st minute with the climatic match of the 2019 Six Nations tied at 31-31 after the Scots had produced five unanswered tries to threaten the greatest comeback victory in Test history.

The Saracens fly-half had gifted two of those tries - to Stuart McInally and Finn Russell - and was also lucky to escape a card for a late shoulder-led tackle on Darcy Graham.

Confessing his role in Scotland's resurgence, Farrell admitted: "We probably gifted them the momentum, me more than anyone", and it was Ford who crossed for the converted added-time try that spared England from humiliation.

"Owen lost a bit of his edge. He was just a little bit off his best and George Ford has been in exceptional form this week," Jones said.

"We know George is an excellent player who can bring something different to the table. We ended up getting a draw due to George's brilliant play.

"The only thing I was pleased about in the second half was the response of our finishers, who got us out of a deep hole. They got us a draw in difficult circumstances in the end."

Overall England dominated the Six Nations try-scoring charts by touching down 24 times, 10 more than their closest rivals Ireland and Scotland, yet it was Wales who were crowned worthy ch ampions.

Collapses in the second half in Cardiff and against Scotland at Twickenham point to a mental fragility that must be remedied in time for the World Cup and Jones is ready to enlist outside help to find a solution.

"The All Blacks had this problem for eight years and it cost them two World Cups. It's not an easy problem to fix. We've had four years, we're getting there," Jones said.

In Saturday's other game, Italy's losing sequence in the Six Nations extended to 22 matches but France were pushed all the way before prevailing 25-14 at the Stadio Olimpico.

The form of the Azzurri in the last few years has led to calls for a relegation system.

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