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Eddie Jones comes to George Ford's defence

Published 29/05/2016

Dylan Hartley was full of praise for England's fightback
Dylan Hartley was full of praise for England's fightback

Eddie Jones turned on George Ford's critics and backed the England fly-half to recover from the jeering that greeted his dismal kicking in a 27-13 victory over Wales.

Ford missed six of his seven shots at goal, comprising of four conversions and two penalties, and it was not until the 48th minute that he was able to make his mark on the scoreboard despite a succession of easy attempts.

As the misses piled up, a sold-out 80,000 crowd at Twickenham responded with boos and it was an ironic cheer that greeted his conversion of Jack Clifford's try.

Ford had been earmarked to start the first Test against Australia in a fortnight's time and in response to demand for Owen Farrell to be given the 10 jersey for the tour opener in Brisbane, Jones mounted a strong defence of the 23-year-old.

"That's not very nice is it? We have got to be careful of that in rugby," England head coach Jones said when asked about the jeering.

"He's a tough boy. I'm not worried about him, he'll be fine. He's a fantastic rugby player. Everyone has experiences which aren't pleasant, but he will be fine.

"I have seen Tiger Woods miss putts, I have seem Michael Jordan miss jump shots, everyone has a bad day and he had a bad day kicking but I thought the rest of his play was brilliant.

"He knew when to run and he knew when to kick and he had a few dabs himself.

"We scored five tries, one was a bit how's your mother, and the other four were scored by backs. If you score four tries against Wales your stand-off is doing something right.

"The thing that strikes me is that we've just beaten Wales five tries to one and we're talking about a guy who can't kick a few goals.

"It's quite amazing and just shows the negative reaction in English rugby. It's quite sad....I find it quite sad to be honest.

"Wales are literally full strength, we're missing 11 players and we're talking about a young kid who misses some kicks. We need to get some perspective on where we're going in the game here."

Jones also took exception to Wales fly-half Dan Biggar arguing with referee Marius Mitrea over the legality of Clifford's try, claiming that in the build-up Dan Cole had intended to catch the ball when attempting to intercept.

"When you look at the replay it was definitely a try. The ball went backwards. Cole tried to catch the ball. A tight head should be rewarded for trying to catch the ball!" Jones said.

"I didn't like how Biggar went on after that. We have got to be really careful in the game that we don't allow that to creep in.

"I saw some games on Saturday where players were getting on at referees when they make a decision, gesticulating, and I think we have got to be careful of that in rugby because that's what has defined the game and it shouldn't happen."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland felt it was the wrong call to award Clifford's try and felt Biggar was within his rights to demonstrate.

"We've just got to accept the decision. To me, Cole put his hand out. There was no attempt to try and catch the ball," Gatland said.

"It was a pretty important decision at a pretty vital time in the game. Dan was adamant there was a knock-on.

"There wasn't any abuse from Dan towards the referee - that would be unacceptable - but there is nothing wrong with a player demonstrating what he feels was a pretty important decision and shows a bit of passion.

"He just felt clearly that the decision was wrong."

England will name a replacement for the injured Manu Tuilagi on Monday morning with Luther Burrell doing his claim to being chosen ahead of Ollie Devoto no harm with a muscular first-half try.

"I thought Luther played quite well, we've still got a decision to make there," Jones said.

"Ollie gives us the flexibility of playing 10 and 12, so I'll have a chat to the two boys and a chat to the coaches.

"Maybe I'll have a chat to the crowd as well, find out what they think."

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