England head coach Eddie Jones turned his sights to the “greatest Welsh side ever” after a resounding mauling of France gave his men two wins from two Guinness Six Nations games.
England backed up their victory in Ireland with a 44-8 defeat of Les Bleus at Twickenham, falling one point short of the record margin of victory of 37 points, set in 1911.
Jonny May scored a first-half hat-trick and there were tries for Henry Slade, Owen Farrell and a penalty try as England kept hapless France scoreless in the second half. Farrell kicked an additional 14 points.
Next for Jones’ men is a trip to Cardiff on 23 February, with Jones apparently having forgotten the great Wales sides of the 1970s and the Grand Slam winners of 2005, 2008 and 2012 in his assessment of Warren Gatland’s men.
“There’s a lot more in this team and we understand that and we’re committed to being the very best we can be,” Jones, pictured, said. “When we get back together on Wednesday we’ll start the process of how we can get better again. We’re playing the greatest Welsh side ever; we’re going to have to be at our absolute best.
“You know you’re playing against a Warren Gatland side. He’s been at the top of the tree in European rugby for the last 15 years, through his club and country and the Lions. You’re playing against a tough, physical team. They contest hard at the breakdown. You’ve got to earn every point against them. We’re looking forward to going down there. Should be fun.”
England led 30-8 at the interval, with four tries earning a bonus-point victory, but Jones insisted the second-half performance was even better.
“I think when you put yourself in a position where after 30 minutes you’ve got a bonus point against a top team you’ve done pretty well,” he added.
“And the second half I thought our performance was even better. Even though we didn’t score as many points, our focus and our discipline to keep France scoreless was outstanding. But we just had a quick chat in the room there and we felt we probably left 15 to 20 points on the field.”
Jones reserved particular praise for May, who took his Test tally to 22 tries in 42 appearances, with two of his scores coming as reward for chasing kicks.
Jones added: “Jonny May’s like when you go to the park and you see someone with a tennis ball and they throw it, the dog runs 100mph and chases it and brings it back. He does that pretty well.”
England have enjoyed success through their tactical kicking game in Dublin and now against Les Bleus, but Jones hinted at varied tactics to come at the Principality Stadium. “There’s always space, because you’ve only got 15 players,” Jones added.
“At the moment we’re having a great deal of success with our kicking, but that could create opportunities in the next game somewhere else.”
Prop Mako Vunipola was replaced and required the application of ice to his left ankle, but Jones was uncertain of the severity of the injury.
France replied through a Morgan Parra penalty and Damian Penaud try in an error-strewn performance which does not bode well in World Cup year. The teams meet again in Yokohama in October.
France head coach Jacques Brunel said: “Obviously I’m very, very disappointed. I’m most of all disappointed with what happened in the first half.
“We were really under pressure from the English side, especially from their kicking game and we were not able to overcome that.”