It took Eddie Jones about 40 minutes to realise that southern hemisphere-style running rugby is not so easy on a cold winter’s day at Murrayfield, as a change of tactics enabled England grind out a 15-9 victory in his first game in charge.
England had looked lively in the opening quarter of the Six Nations encounter but their ambitious attacks too often came to nought, apart from a bulldozing run from lock George Kruis which put them ahead with a 14th minute try.
After reaching the break 7-6 up, Jones’s team took a more measured approach in the second half and though they were never able to stretch clear, a second try by Jack Nowell and an increasingly dominant set piece ensured they always had their noses in front.
“We wanted to play some positive rugby, the attitude was to try to move the ball, but we were a bit off our game,” Jones said.
“It’s hard to get an attacking game going when the referee allows the defence a lot of advantage at the breakdown so you have to play with that in mind and adjust.”
With their noses in front at the break, Jones said the victory was never in doubt.
“It became a set-piece, defence game and we excelled in that and in the second half I thought we were commanding.
“Our data was that Scotland scored 69 per cent of their points in first 30 minutes, so at halftime we were pretty confident and we won the game easily in the end, we scored two tries to nil.”
It was also a satisfying start for Dylan Hartley as captain, particularly after Jones had said he wanted to re-establish England’s pack as a unit to be feared.
“It was a bit of an arm wrestle in the first half,” said the hooker playing his first international since last year’s Six Nations after he was omitted from the World Cup squad for disciplinary reasons.
“We wanted to seek dominance at the set piece and that tends to creep in the second half. We stuck at it and when it mattered we got some dividends.”
Four years ago Stuart Lancaster began his stint as England coach with a similarly ground-out Murrayfield victory but Jones again showed how he is taking a more relaxed approach to the job when describing how the squad would celebrate.
“We’ve come up here and won the Calcutta Cup. We scored two tries, there are no injuries so it’s been a good day at the office,” said the Australian, who has made of point of giving the players a little more latitude than under the previous regime.
“So there might be a few beers tonight.”