Eddie Jones said England needed to be more “ruthless” after accepting they had the “rub of the green” in a 23-19 win over Six Nations champions Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.
England had seemingly won the game 23-12, only coming in the last minute for Wales substitute Kieran Hardy to pass for a converted try.
There was still time for the game to resume, giving Wales a chance to make an effort that would have given them a remarkable win after trailing 17-0 early in the second half.
“It’s a very good win for us, a lot of resilience, a lot of toughness,” England coach Jones told reporters after a game in which Wales beat his side by three tries to one.
The veteran Australian boss had only confirmed his side shortly before kick-off, with Elliot Daly replacing Manu Tuilagi after the center powerhouse suffered a hamstring injury, a matter of hours after Thursday’s announcement of the original matchday 23.
“We put ourselves in a good winning position in the first 50 minutes, had 10, 15, 20 minutes there where we were a little sloppy in defense and let them back in the game, but for a young team there were some good signs out there,” Jones said.
“For a young team we have to find a way to be more ruthless once we get to the opposition 22.”
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England fly-half Marcus Smith gave the hosts a 12-0 lead at half time with four penalties.
And shortly after the break England were leading 17-0 after number 8 Alex Dombrandt, a team-mate of Smith at Premiership champions Harlequins, dived for his first test attempt after the toppled lineout of Wales hooker Ryan Elias.
But Wales hit back with two tries in seven minutes via wing Josh Adams and center Nick Tompkins before, after two more Smith penalties, Hardy struck to set up a tense finish in front of a packed crowd of over 81,000.
The match ended when veteran scrum half Ben Youngs, appointed as a substitute to win an England 115th cap, kicked the ball dead.
“It’s a great tribute to his work ethic, to his resilience, to his toughness,” said Jones of Youngs’ feat of surpassing Jason Leonard as England’s most awarded men’s international.
The win meant England, who face Ireland in a fortnight at Twickenham, now have two wins from three matches this championship and are second in the table behind leader France.
But Wales’ second defeat after an opening day 29-7 thrashed by Ireland all but fulfilled their hopes of a successful title defense.
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The next step for Wales is France, who will arrive in Cardiff after a dominant 36-17 win over Scotland that kept them on course for a Grand Slam, with the warning from Wales captain Dan Biggar: lead, will act against it.”
Wales coach Wayne Pivac said Scottish referee Mike Adamson made a mistake in awarding Dombrandt’s try, with the New Zealander claiming England’s Maro Itoje had illegally brought Adam Beard into the lineout.
“He was definitely pushed out of the lineout,” Pivac said. “Unfortunately, no one picked it up and the try was allowed to stand.”
Pivac added: “It is very disappointing to be two behind in three games.
“We were disappointed with our penalties in the disturbance. We were always chasing the game and were not able to get a foothold there until late.”
Jones, however, refuted Pivac’s complaint about Dombrandt’s attempt by saying, “It’s the pinch of the green.
“We don’t complain when it goes against us, as we did last time in Cardiff (when Wales beat England 40-24). I haven’t seen anything wrong.”