Jones and Farrell praise England toughness after gritty win

Head coach Eddie Jones and co-captain Owen Farrell both hailed England’s mental toughness after a nail-biting Test match saw them edge South Africa 12-11.

Head coach Eddie Jones and co-captain Owen Farrell both hailed England’s mental toughness after a nail-biting Test match saw them edge South Africa 12-11.

England were on the back foot for large periods of the first half as the Springboks dominated the territory battle and scored the game’s only try through S’busio Nkosi – Handre Pollard adding a penalty.

But the home side admirably stayed in the game, Farrell registering a penalty while Maro Itoje was in the sin-bin and the defence going unbreached in that time.

Trailing 8-6 at half-time England were much-improved after the break, penalties from Farrell and Elliot Daly proving the difference and leading Jones to credit his side’s mentality.

“It was a tough old game of rugby, it’s South Africa v England so what would you expect,” commented Jones.

“It went down to the wire. We played some of the big moments well which allowed us to win the game and I’m super proud of our boys.

“We’ve had three training runs and to put together a cohesive performance like that, particularly defensively, is absolutely first class – all the credit belongs to the players, especially the leadership group.

“We had a team today of under 450 caps, to win a World Cup you need 800 or 900 caps, so we had a lot of guys who are new to Test rugby.

“The way they stuck in the fight was superb. When you get in those arm wrestles, someone is going to give and we didn’t give. We hung in there long enough and when young guys do that it’s a really good sign of their future at Test match level.”

With neither side escaping on the scoreboard at any stage in the match the pressure inside the stadium only grew as the match went on.

Farrell’s third penalty on 73 minutes re-took the lead for the home side, who withstood enormous springbok pressure in the final five minutes with staunch defence.

Farrell, along with man-of-the-match Mark Wilson, headed up that defence and conceded that more points could’ve been scored, but believes England were ultimately rewarded for their character.

“We just made sure we were calm first and foremost, we were saying it was coming, it felt that way,” said Farrell.

“We knew we had to put in a lot of work at half-time and we put ourselves in some good positions in that second half. We probably could have come away with a few more points to be honest.

“We’ve not really spoken about it but it feels important that we’ve won to reward the boys for the effort they’ve put in, especially off the field.”

England’s Test against South Africa was the first of four Autumn Internationals and the team now have a week together to prepare to face world champions New Zealand on Saturday 10.

The talismanic Saracens playmaker believes the South Africa result will boost the England squad as they look forward to facing the All Blacks.

“We feel good,” added Farrell. “We’ll always work on the rugby side of stuff and make sure we get better at the detail. We’re going to spend more time together now, have got another week but to get that result and being mentally tough was important.

“We’ll have a lot of learning from this game I’m sure. As I said, I think we can be a bit more clinical but it’s important to get the win and we’ll enjoy this week and look forward to the next Test.”

Clearly full of pride with his players after the England win, Jones was also in bullish mood when asked about facing the All Blacks.

“We’ve got New Zealand next week and we can’t wait. They’ll be confident and we can’t wait to get them.”