Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Rugby World Cup 2019: Eddie Jones thrilled with England's 'runaway rhino' Kyle Sinckler after rampant quarter-final win over Australia

A 40-16 victory in Oita saw the 2003 champions run over four tries and set up semi-final clash with holders the All Blacks

England coach Eddie Jones toasted "runaway rhino" Kyle Sinckler after the rampaging prop scored his first international try in Saturday's 40-16 World Cup quarter-final rout of Australia.

Sinckler proved an unlikely hero for England after the Wallabies had pulled to within a point in Oita, crashing over after a slick pass from skipper Owen Farrell to spark a run of 23 unanswered points for Jones's side, who face defending champions New Zealand in next week's semi-finals.

"He scrummed really well," Australia Jones said of his tighthead. "He found himself in an advanced attacking position and got a great pass from Owen and then he was a runaway rhino. I'm really impressed by how hard he is working at improving his game."

Sinckler came up with a enormous steal to stretch England's lead back to 11 points at a point when the Australians were beginning to look dangerous in a superb individual performance.

"Fair play to the Australians - that was hard graft, especially in the first 20 minutes," said Sinckler. "They came out of the blocks flying, and some of their forwards ran really, really hard.

"It was testament to us as a team that one of our biggest things is togetherness and how tight we are as a squad," he added after England exorcised the ghosts of their 2015 flop when a 33-13 defeat by the Wallabies at Twickenham condemned them to an early exit.

"It's something we've consciously worked on for the past few months and you saw it today -- sticking to the plan, sticking to the process, always having belief in ourselves. We're a team of 31 and the finishers.

"I was knackered," Sinckler admitted the effort of scoring his first try had left him so exhausted he had asked Farrell to take as much time as possible over the conversion.

"On a personal level it was very special," he said. "It's something we work hard on in training and something I try to bring to the party is my ball-carrying ability.

"It was quite nice that it all fell into plan but I was knackered afterwards. I said to Faz - 'take the minute-and-a-half, because I needed the rest'.

"That was a tough, tough Test match. They were pounding for ages but we took their legs away."

Sinckler's marauding display was matched by those of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, who put Australia's famed, ball-scavenging back-row combo of Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the shade.

"I would be a bit weird if I say making a tackle is more exciting than running with the ball," said man of the match Curry, whose quick hands set up Jonny May for the first of his two first-half tries.

"There might be a six-year-old watching that game today and it might inspire them. I realised what a special occasion it is and these are the games you grew up watching and wanted to play in."

England, world champions in 2003, ran over four tries - all converted by Farrell, who also kicked four penalties for what turned out to be a rampant win.

However, it was Australia who led with an early penalty and spent most of the opening 18 minutes on the front foot before two quick-fire Jonny May tries changed the feel of the game.

“Defensively, particularly in that first 20 minutes, we had to really dig in,” said Jones. “They had 70 per cent possession and had a lot of field position so it was an important part of the game.

“We hung in there, got a bit of momentum back and then took our opportunities well.”

Jones caused a stir when he dropped George Ford from the starting XV to enable him to pair centres Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade outside Farrell at flyhalf but, not for the first time, the coach showed that he knew what he was doing.

“We were pleased with selection at 10, 12 and 13,” he said. “They had a lot of defensive work early in the game and we thought that might happen. I also thought George Ford was absolutely spectacular when he came on – he kept Australia running around when we wanted them to.”

On his 50th appearance, May was the man to finish the first of England's opportunities, one cleverly created with a series of dummy runners and the second coming after brilliant work by Slade, with Sinckler and Anthony Watson also scoring in the second half.

“There is probably no more professional player than him,” Jones said of May, who was withdrawn late on as a precaution after feeling a “twinge” but was not expected to be a doubt for the semi-finals.

England captain Farrell had his best game of the tournament by far, leading from the front with his aggressive defence and delivering a flawless goalkicking display, landing all eight of his kicks, several from wide out.

“We gathered under the posts and we didn’t really talk about what had happened, it was about what was next,” Farrell said. “We wanted to play the game at our pace, not theirs, and thankfully we did that in the second half."

Having chalked up their seventh successive win against the Wallabies, England move on to Tokyo to prepare for their first semi-final since 2007, to face the defending and three-time champions New Zealand, and Jones said they will have to improve again.

"We haven’t played at our best yet and the challenge is how do we get better next week?" he said. "The semi-final is probably the toughest game of the tournament - two teams desperate to get to the final, and everyone empties the tank."

For Australia and their coach Michael Cheika, the defeat will lead to renewed speculation about his future.

Cheika's contract expires at the end of the year and he previously indicated he would not be reapplying for his job if they failed to win the World Cup.

But asked about his position following Saturday's defeat, Cheika said: "If I'm being honest, it's a cruel world when you are being asked those questions two minutes after being knocked out of a World Cup.

"If you could find some compassion ... Perhaps whatever your news outlet is, just think about people's feelings, just chill.

"When the time comes, I'll tell them. They don't need to know today."

Updated: October 19, 2019 06:23 PM

SHARE

SHARE