Wingers Jonny May and Anthony Watson delighted England boss Eddie Jones as his side got back to winning ways with a 41-18 victory over Italy at Twickenham.
May and Watson combined for three tries in a showing which contained plenty of attacking flair as Jones’ men bounced back from their 2021 Guinness Six Nations Round 1 defeat to Scotland.
Watson crossed twice but it was May who provided the eye-catching moment when he leapt out of a tackle to touch down in spectacular fashion at the end of the first half – a try which evoked rugby league comparisons from England’s head coach.
“He’s [Jonny May] obviously been watching rugby league tapes, [in the] NRL that’s a fairly traditional way to finish, a smart way to finish, absolutely brilliant,” Jones said.
“It’s a very common way of scoring tries in the NRL. I know during the World Cup the guys did some practice. He’s such a great try scorer, he’s always looking to see how he can score a try.
“I thought he [Anthony Watson] was better at No.8 than he was on the wing and he looked sharp. Really good, he’s getting back to his best form.
“He had a difficult time after the World Cup, a number of injuries, wasn’t at his best in the autumn but he’s had a really good training period now and he’s definitely coming back to his best.”
England actually went behind early on to Monty Ioane’s try but fought back hard with Jonny Hill, Jack Willis and Elliot Daly all adding further scores in a bonus-point win which has got their Championship back on track.
But, while pleased with his side’s youngsters in particular, Jones admits that his side must get better ahead of their Round 3 clash with Wales.
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He added: “I was really pleased. If you look at that team for the last 30 minutes I think we had three guys over the age of 26. All young guys, full of energy who are just going to help take the team forward.
“We’ve got to get better at set-piece dominance. We haven’t, in our two games so far, been able to exert enough consistent pressure in the scrum or through our lineout, and our ability to execute opportunities. They’d be the two areas [to improve on].
“As I’ve explained, last week we gave the players too much information, some of the wrong information. Whenever you do that to a team unfortunately it takes away a bit of energy and that’s how we played last week.
“This week we prioritised the information a lot better. We had a week full of good clarity and the players played with good energy.
“I thought it ended up being a good thing for us [Italy scoring early]. Whenever you play against a team you’re supposed to win against, if they score early it sharpens you up a bit so I wasn’t too perturbed. In fact I thought it would have a positive effect on the team.
“We’d prefer to be on eight points, we’re on six points. I’m really pleased with the attitude of the players today, the positivity, the energy, execution we’ve still got a little bit of work to do but that’s okay and we’ll get ready for Wales.”
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England captain Owen Farrell also took plenty of encouragement from his side’s performance while echoing Jones’ suggestion that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“It’s a step forward for us,” he said. “In terms of what we were after, in terms of intent, in terms of energy, in terms of how we attacked the game, I thought that was brilliant.
“It felt like we were back to ourselves. Obviously there was still stuff we could do better, it wasn’t a perfect performance, but that doesn’t leave us in too bad a place going forward.”