Punchy, cheeky, passionate: Eddie Jones masterplan rejuvenates England

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8:46 PM GMT

DUBLIN Mark this England victory down as the moment where Eddie Jones masterplan came together, where they laughed in the face of rugby logic and for one evening in a golden era of Irish rugby they asked questions of Joe Schmidts side that others have recently tried and failed to do.

A resurgent England upset Six Nations champions Ireland on Saturday, handing Joe Schmidt a first ever home defeat in the championship.

It was all going so well for France as they took a 16-0 lead into half-time. But a record-breaking comeback from Wales puts coach Warren Gatland on course to deliver on a bold prediction.

Winger Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick of tries and pivot Finn Russell provided decisive moments of genius as Scotland got their Six Nations campaign off to a winning start.

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You have to go back to the World Cup-winning days of 2003 and those ageless names of Jonny Wilkinson and Martin Johnson to find an England performance to rival this. It was a match where everything came together as they brought physicality and a brilliant game plan to prevent Ireland from ever finding their stride. They were, simply, superb.

For Ireland, the likes of Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray will reflect on a game where they were never allowed space and had a wall of white constantly on their case. Ireland never found any momentum and were out-kicked. They never had a chance to turn it into an arm-wrestle or get a foothold. And England just kept the foot neatly pressed on Irelands throat and landed their game-winning punches.

This will make the rugby world sit up and take notice of Jones side once again but he will do his best to downplay expectation and talk of a game-to-game mentality. But the basic fact is that Ireland do not lose at home in the Six Nations, at least not under Schmidt. Last year they won the Grand Slam and dispatched the All Blacks. They were rising to what many thought would be one monumental crescendo to Japan and a potential World Cup triumph with the Six Nations already safely secured for the second year running. But England had a point to prove after their miserable fifth-placed finish last year and the ignominy of Ireland wrapping up that Grand Slam emphatically at Twickenham. They not only proved that point, they hammered it home with a four-try victory.

England travelled to Dublin as underdogs. Jones was painted by some in the build up as a poor mans Mourinho and a coach who had passed his sell-by date. Yet after this victory, he deflected any praise levelled in his direction in the post-match press conference onto the players and did his utmost to quieten any excitement about the World Cup in September. It was the old refrain of just focusing on the next task, with France arriving at Twickenham next Sunday. But away from public eyes, oh how hell enjoy this.

Jonny Sexton (far right) and his Ireland teammates try to comprehend a stunning 12-point defeat by England, their first loss at home in the Six Nations under coach Joe Schmidt.Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

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This was a victory and performance in Jones image: punchy, cheeky, passionate, precise and ruthless. They had the outstanding Mako Vunipola at the heart of the win, but he was just one star performer among a huge cast. Billy Vunipola got through an almighty amount of work while Manu Tuilagi hunted anything and everything wearing green. Henry Slade came of age on the Test stage and England presented a multi-dimensional and layered attack mixing power and prowess that has not been seen in recent times.

It was the first Test where the Vunipola brothers and Tuilagi started together. My, how they clicked, constantly coming round the corner and hammering away. Kyle Sinckler looked in danger of spontaneously combusting such was the energy he brought to the Test. Tom Curry was a nuisance at the breakdown but will need to learn from his yellow card in the first half. Maro Itoje was also heroic and England will be keeping everything crossed that the knee injury that forced him off in the second half heals quickly.

In the backs Jack Nowell popped up all over the place, running through midfield and on the flanks and even packed down at openside when Curry was sin-binned. Jonny May did his job in scoring the opening try after two minutes England started irresistibly and also made the key contribution in kicking ahead smartly for Henry Slades first try of a late, match-clinching double.

And then there was Owen Farrell. In his first Test as sole captain of England, he led from the front and offered a calm, authoritative presence. His kicking game in tandem with Slade and Elliot Daly gave England a trio of playmakers, constantly pinning back Jacob Stockdale and Robbie Henshaw.

One of the games myriad subplots in the build-up was the battle of the two makeshift fullbacks with Henshaw and Daly both playing away from their usual positions. Daly did well, but while Henshaw is a wonderful centre, he needs to stay there rather than at 15. Elsewhere for Ireland, Bundee Aki never got a chance to get going, the half-backs didnt impose themselves on the game while England won the collisions and played with a heightened urgency which Schmidts side failed to match. The Ireland back-row were mere extras in this play, while Englands pack took the limelight.

Ireland will now lick their wounds and if Schmidt has a hairdryer, the players will likely be blasted with it. This wasnt part of the plan but such is the beauty of this competition, they have another four weekends to assign this game to an ugly corner of their recent rugby history.

Meanwhile, Englands Fortress Twickenham took a battering last year in the championship so next weeks match against France carries added importance. But while Jones was loathed to paint this Dublin win in any greater significance than a mere single victory, those World Cup foundations are appearing secure. England now must find a way to back this up next weekend and prove this is the norm, rather than the exception.

This article was originally published by Espn.co.uk. Read the original article here.

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