England coach Eddie Jones paid tribute to his side’s defensive effort as they stunned defending champions New Zealand 19-7 to reach the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.
“We knew we’d have to come off the line hard. Keep taking away time and space from them. We managed to do that. Caused a few errors and we may have had a few lucky bounces and got the result,” said Jones after the shock semi-final win.
“Our best form of attack is our defence. We create opportunities through our defence to attack,” he added.
England took the lead with less than two minutes on the clock, centre Manu Tuilagi powering over under the posts. Captain Owen Farrell said he was delighted with his team’s start.
“We felt like we had prepared well and we started the game well,” said Farrell.
“Look, in all these big games, teams get physical. They go at each other from the off. We know that was going to come our way and we wanted to make sure we were playing that game too,” added the captain.
Jones paid warm compliment to the All Blacks, describing opposite number Steve Hansen, who is now stepping down, as a “great coach.”
“They’ve been a really great team and and we had to dig really deep to beat them,” said the Australian.
Losing captain Kieran Read said the loss, the first suffered by the All Blacks at a World Cup since a 2007 quarter-final, was “pretty hard to put into words”.
“I think we’ll look at the game and there will be so many what-ifs and things we could have done much better. It’s days like this you can’t afford it and it cost us,” he said.
But Hansen congratulated England for some “tremendous footy” and said they were the best side on the night.
“You can’t give them half a sniff because they will take it,” said Hansen.
England go through to the final next week where they will face the winner of Sunday’s other semi-final between South Africa and Wales.
“It’s brilliant to get there. It’s brilliant to be part of and we’ll enjoy this win first. But we’ll make sure we prepare well” for the final, said Farrell.