Six Nations
Shrieking, sledging Eddie Jones must beware Wales' George North
Greg Growden
February 15, 2016
Highlights: Italy 9-40 England

Eddie Jones' grating voice is impossible to ignore. The screech, the grind, gets deep into your mind. Not surprisingly, the England players took notice of his pre-match rev-up when he demanded his players "smack" the Italians, and give them "a good hiding".

They did just that in Rome, even if did take a while for the message to properly sink in.

It was only well into the second half that England showed any form of dominance, any semblance of what it takes to hound other teams out of the contest, scoring four tries in the final 27 minutes.

Before that, it was the usual England dirge, which will give Jones enough excuses to make the players' lives pretty uncomfortable over the next fortnight before they encounter Ireland. They will be hearing plenty of that Pommy Eddie shriek plus classic examples of traditional Australian sledging.

Jones: England could have easily scored sixty points

England and Jones will probably boast three wins out of three after their first Twickenham encounter, as Ireland's loss to France will cut deep into their psyche and player numbers.

Ireland are moaning about Jaco Peyper, and they have fair cause, as the South African referee, who has an irritating tendency to want to be every player's mate, ignored several blatant acts of thuggery from the French. Jonathan Sexton was badly taken out behind the play with a shoulder charge, and numerous madcap charges by French forwards at the ruck were ridiculously overlooked. No surprise there was a steady stream of Irish players heading to the sideline, either for attention or needing to be replaced.

© FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

The French, clearly delighted they no longer had to wear their beach gear and were back in their familiar national jersey, succeeded in charming Peyper.

Just as comical were some of Peyper's exchanges with his TMO, George Ayoub, which was a great relief to the onlooker as humour was required to keep one attentive during this underwhelming fixture.

But the Irish are having themselves on with complaints that Peyper gave France too much of an advantage at scrum time. It was soon apparent that Ireland, especially on the loose-head side, were struggling enormously in the first half to stay straight, or even just stay up. Props became ostriches, and Peyper gave Ireland the benefit of the doubt on several occasions.

France edge Ireland in Six Nations thriller

Pommy Eddie, who knows quite a bit about front-row play, will already have seized on this Irish frailty as something he can manipulate in England's favour. Expect some pointed barbs and Irish jokes from Jones next week.

England's real battle will come when they encounter Wales at Twickenham in the following round. Wales are far from the complete deal but still look the team to beat for the Six Nations title.

Their key asset is that they possess game breakers, and those who have a deep belief in seizing the moment. George North is a prime example.

Tom James transformed the game when outsprinting Scottish defenders for more than 60 metres, but several inspirational moments from North showed the Wales backline are capable of producing gold if given space.

Wales shade Scotland in Six Nations epic

Early in the second half North reminded Scotland not to give him any leeway when he scampered for around 50 metres, and then in the 70th minute he was involved in what will remain one of the best tries of this year's tournament.

A carefully constructed midfield move saw the wing glide and cut his way around and through six Scottish defenders. Admittedly the attempt made by several of those defenders to stop him was pretty shoddy, but North must be given credit for making them look so silly. His pace, belief and willingness to change his attacking angle was of the highest order.

Can he do the same against England?

No doubt.

Scotland, as shown in the Rugby World Cup, are a substantially better team than in previous years, but they are not prolific tryscorers and that remains their greatest weakness.

A case in point, Sean Lamont, has been a consistent and committed selection primarily on the wing for Scotland since 2004. On Saturday, he played his 102nd Test for Scotland. How many tries has he scored for his country?



What are David Campese's stats again? Nah, forget it.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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