Rugby Union

Eddie Jones praises England’s toughness after holding off South Africa

Eddie Jones praised his young England team’s resistance and toughness after grinding out a victory in their ‘arm wrestle’ against South Africa at Twickenham.

England were second best during the first half but managed to restrict the Springboks’ lead to 8-6 at the break. The hosts improved in the second half but were still relieved to edge out South Africa in a tense 12-11 win.

The hosts came under intense pressure during the match and head coach Jones credited his players’ mental and physical strength for the victory in their opening autumn international Test.

Jones said: “It was a tough old Test match. Look, we had players out on their feet in the last 20 minutes. Ben Te’o has played 30 minutes of rugby this season and he got through 70 minutes. There was a real show of resistance and there was a lot of toughness in our play and I’m really pleased with the boys.”

The Australian added: “We just stuck at it and stayed in the arm wrestle and did the simple things well. We had to keep on trying to turn them around and keep them on the back foot and we did that.”

Jones was forced to pick an inexperienced England team, with a host of players such Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes ruled out of the match, but he was delighted with the contributions made against the Springboks.

“Our young guys did exceptionally well,” he said. “Alec Hepburn and Ben Moon both played 40 minutes for us. Zach Mercer came off the bench for us at the end. Jack Nowell hasn’t played for us for a couple of years so it was a great effort.”

It does not get any easier for England, with world champions New Zealand next up at Twickenham. But Jones was in bullish mood after his side’s win.

Jones said: “We’re going to prepare well and we can’t wait to play them. You want to play against the best in the world and the Kiwis are the best in the world, so let’s bring it on.”

Followtherose this autumn with all of England’s Tests live on Sky Sports throughout November. Watch clashes against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

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