They say that a sign of a good team is that they win even when they are not at their best.
And Eddie Jones was delighted with the way his England side navigated what he called ‘Fergie Time’ to get the job done against Tonga on Sunday in Sapporo.
The win in their World Cup opener had long since been secured – thanks in no small part to Manu Tuilagi’s first-half double – as the clock ticked down and England led 28-3.
But they had not secured the fourth try and a bonus point that could prove vital in the final shakeout of Pool C.
The bench had been emptied and chances had gone begging before Jonathan Joseph broke clear to put Luke Cowan-Dickie into the clear for the all-important score – to leave Jones grinning from ear to ear.
“We are really pleased, we came here to get five points, we got five points, we have got no injuries. We know we can better,” he said.
“But that’s two Tests in a row we haven’t conceded a try.
“We are really pleased. We know we can get better and that is the goal of the USA game (in four days).”
Jones is always keen to bend the ear of other coaches in top-level sport, the likes of Pep Guardiola and Gareth Southgate have often been sounding boards in his four-year tenure.
But this was a win dedicated by Jones to another confidant, Sir Alex Ferguson, whose Manchester United team made their name on scoring late, late goals.
“During the lead up we have had a number of coaches come into camp,” he added.
“Sir Alex Ferguson, one of things they had was ‘Fergie Time.’
“The message was be patient. We had no sign of panic, we just kept on playing good rugby and the try comes.
“It might have been easier if it came earlier but it came and that is the sign of a good team.”
Jones was caught on the big screen banging the desk in frustration in the first half as Tonga proved a real handful.
And while he joked he was only batting away mosquitoes, there was clearly room for improvement in his side.
“I am the coach I get emotional, I get angry, excited, happy disappointed that is all part of coaching. But I was so pleased with the attitude of our players, fantastic.”
And there were special words of praise for Tuilagi whose first-half double proved pivotal in laying the platform for his side.
“(Manu)’s increasingly getting close to his best, he is training well, he’s in great physical nick, he enjoys being around the boys.
“For a Samoan to play against Tonga a pretty special occasion as it was for Billy today.
“They wanted to hammer Billy and he handled it really well.
“Manu is only going to get better as the tournament goes.”