LONDON (Reuters) - With freezing rain swirling across Twickenham and Wales staging a spirited second-half rally lesser teams might have buckled on Saturday but England displayed an obdurate streak that had coach Eddie Jones purring.
The attacking prowess that overwhelmed Italy last weekend was under wraps for most of a titanic Six Nations battle between two evenly-matched sides with winger Jonny May’s two first-half tries proving the difference on the day.
What really impressed Jones, however, during the tense 12-6 victory was the disciplined defending that enabled England to preserve their lead despite failing to score in the second half and seal a 15th successive home win in the tournament.
“Just as in the Australia game in November it showed we can win an arm-wrestle, we can hang in there, we can find a way to win and that’s an important habit to have,” he said.
“You get that by working harder than other teams. Because when you have success you can get complacent and stop doing the little things that allow you to win these arm-wrestles.”
Jones had come under fire for questioning whether Wales’ flyhalf Rhys Patchell had the “bottle” for the battle during the build-up, but stood by his comments.
“Before the game I made some comments, you guys ask me to make comments before the game and I raise issues,” he said.
“If you don’t want me to do that I won’t do it.
“In any team you try to put pressure on their nine and 10, they tried to put pressure on our nine and 10 so it’s no different.”
Asked how Patchell who was substituted during the second half, stood up to the test, Jones snapped: “I don’t coach him mate, ask (Wales coach) Warren (Gatland)”.
Jones was full of praise for May, who raced on to Owen Farrell’s grubber kick to score in the third minute and grabbed another touchdown following a superb offload by Joe Launchbury after a lengthy England siege.
“He was outstanding,” Jones said. “He was brilliant today. He showed how important pace is. No one would have scored that first try today, only Jonny.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond