As the saying goes – this was coming.
Far from impressive against Italy, lucky against Wales, Eddie Jones’ much vaunted England were finally undone by a brave Scotland team.
As JK Rowling, Scotland Rugby’s No1 fan tweeted near the end of the game: “SCO 25 ENG 13 THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING BUT IT IS.”
And no spells from Harry Potter required.
So if the rest of us could see the writing was on the wall, why not Jones, who has shown time and time again what a shrewd, tactical genius he is?
Here is what Eddie must change to turn England around.
The backrow is too slow
Yes they are big and strong and might win you some lineout ball – England won 11 from 11 lineouts, Scotland 13 from 15 – but you will get killed at the breakdown and also have no linking play between backs and forwards.
England conceded 13 turnovers and also gave up the same number of penalties, many of those at the breakdown.
Scotland’s open side Hamish Watson may be small by Test standards (1.85m and 102kgs to Lawes’ 2.01m and 115kgs) but he was everywhere, constantly getting to the breakdown seconds before the English loose trio.
It was the same with Scottish captain John Barclay.
The really telling statistic was both England wings Anthony Watson and Jonny May gave up three turnovers each – as they were swamped by the faster Scotland backrow and the English backrow were late in support.
The only other player to give up three turnovers – Lawes himself – was again left vulnerable by his backrow partners.
In comparison, Watson conceded just one turnover and Barclay none.
Jones must bring in a more mobile flanker for the last two matches, in the mode of the great Neil Back or Australia’s Michael Hooper.
The only problem is who.
The most likely candidate is Exeter’s Sam Simmonds but he is out injured and mobile English backrowers are in short supply.
Time for Te’o
It’s hard to remember a more ineffective performance from an England backline – apart from the Sam Burgess disaster at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
In total they made just four clean breaks in the entire match – three of those to May, meaning the rest of the team managed just one.
Scotland managed eight – with Huw Jones matching the entire England total.
Joseph also made 23 run metres to Jones’ 115.
It is perhaps unfair to compare Joseph to Jones, who had a career making match similar to the young Brian O’Driscoll. But Joseph is meant to be known for his defence – he made four tackles. Jones made 13.
England simply must get more attacking metres from this position and Jones must look at Owen Farrell swapping to fly-half with Ben Te’o at No12 and Jack Nowell No13.
This would get your most dangerous runners into the game earlier and remove the innocuous George Ford.
Ben Youngs is also clearly missed.
Discover a ‘plan B’
When Jones first took over at England he introduced a power game that simply blew other teams off the park – resulting in a world record-equaling 18 consecutive Test victories.
England dominated up front, build up momentum through forward charges and then with the defence backpedaling released their deceptive backline.
But for that plan to work the forwards must be going forward and against Wales and now Scotland, that has not been the case.
The backline is getting static slow ball, or even ball on the backfoot – and they are getting belted.
A lot of the time it looks like England are in slow motion.
Certainly a more fleet-footed backrow would help but he has one solution sitting on the bench – Lions hooker Jamie George. George would instantly give the English pack more dynamism.
Jones has made his point with Dylan Hartley but time to move on. England need a new No2.
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