Eddie Jones insisted England were due the rub of the green from the referee in their narrow win over Wales amid frustrations from their opponents that Alex Dombrandt’s crucial try stood. The Wales head coach, Wayne Pivac, was aggrieved England’s solitary try was allowed to stand but Jones expressed little sympathy, highlighting perceived injustices in Cardiff last year.
England kept their Six Nations title hopes alive with a 23-19 victory but had led 17-0, only for Wales to come roaring back with tries from Josh Adams, Nick Tompkins and Kieran Hardy. England managed only one try through Dombrandt but Pivac claimed Adam Beard was illegally impeded by Maro Itoje at the lineout in the buildup. Beard appeared unable to get up to compete for Ryan Elias’s throw as the ball sailed over both sets of lineout forwards and into Dombrandt’s welcoming arms.
England rely on Marcus Smith accuracy to hold off Wales’s second-half charge
Asked about the incident, however, Jones pointed to last year’s 40-24 defeat at the Principality Stadium in which Adams and Liam Williams scored controversial tries – the first from a cross-field kick from Dan Biggar when England were not defensively set, the second after what appeared to be an obvious knock-on from Louis Rees-Zammit.
“I don’t comment on the referee,” insisted Jones. “We take the good with the bad. We took 14 points last year in a Six Nations game where they allowed a play where the ball wasn’t alive and then a blatant knock-on. There’s the rub of the green here, sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t. So if we got it today, that’s well and good, we’re not going to complain about it, just as we didn’t complain last year when we didn’t get the rub of the green.”
Pivac, however, believes the referee, Mike Adamson of Scotland, should have reviewed the lineout in question and that if he had, Dombrandt’s try would not have been awarded. “Adam Beard was pushed out, he was chased out of the lineout and bumped,” said Pivac. “Unfortunately that wasn’t picked up and the try stands. Certainly from the replay we’ve seen there was an offence there, we think anyway. I’m disappointed with [it]. If we had an opportunity to review that try, it probably wouldn’t have been given.”
England’s victory means they will welcome Ireland to Twickenham after the championship’s second fallow week still in the hunt for top spot. Luke Cowan-Dickie is expected to be unavailable after limping off with a serious-looking knee injury but Jones was hopeful Tom Curry, who went off at half-time because of a head injury, will be available.
The manner of France’s comprehensive victory over Scotland earlier in the day compared with England’s jittery finish, however, suggests there are significant improvements to be made if Jones’s side are to be considered serious contenders.
“It was a very good win for us,” Jones said. “There was plenty of resilience, plenty of toughness. We got ourselves in a lot of good attacking positions and we’re able to convert that to points. But for a young team we need to find a way to be more ruthless once we get in the opposition’s 22.”
Ben Youngs became England’s most capped men’s player of all-time when he came off the bench after 61 minutes, eclipsing Jason Leonard’s previous record of 114. Leonard was in the stands to see his record broken but Youngs said the celebratory drink with the former prop would have to wait. “Oh God, not yet, I want to be able to play in two weeks’ time. Today highlighted what an incredible player he was as well – to get 114 as a prop. I look forward to having a beer with Jason next time I see him, he kindly messaged me today and I look forward to that very much. [The reception] was incredible, I am very thankful for the rugby community and how they have responded this week and the support I have been given.”