England vs Ireland: Owen Farrell warns Rugby World Cup rivals ‘the best is in front of us’ after record victory

England captain believes his side are moving towards 'something big' after inflicting their biggest defeat on Ireland, while Eddie Jones believes Manu Tuilagi still has more left in the tank

Jack de Menezes
Twickenham
Saturday 24 August 2019 18:43
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Owen Farrell: 'England's best is still in front of us', ahead of Rugby World Cup

Owen Farrell put the rest of the world on notice in the aftermath of England’s record 57-15 win over Ireland by stressing their best performances remain ahead of the squad, while Eddie Jones warmed that man-of-the-match Manu Tuilagi still has “20 per cent to go” before he reaches his peak.

England blew their Six Nations rivals off the Twickenham pitch in an eight-try rout that saw Tuilagi rise to the fore alongside Joe Cokanasiga, with the young wing scoring twice in a World Cup warm-up demolition.

Ireland were only entering their second of four warm-up matches while England found themselves a game further into their preparations, but the contest was killed off in 12 emphatic second-half minutes as they ran in 21 unanswered points through Maro Itoje, George Kruis and Tom Curry tries.

“We feel like we are going in the right direction, and are building towards something,” said captain Farrell, who finished the day with 15 points and made the most of his partnership with George Ford to unlock England’s rampant backs. “Today is another step along. The most pleasing thing is that it feels like our best stuff is still in front of us.”

If that is to prove true in Japan, Saturday’s result served to demonstrate why Tuilagi is so crucial to their World Cup hopes. The Leicester Tigers centre scored the third try that gave England breathing space heading into the break, taking a short pass from Ben Youngs and outpacing an Irish defensive line that had been sucked in towards the scrum, while his bone-crunching second-half tackle on Jordan Larmour highlighted England’s physical advantage.

“He’s in a good place, he’s got a smile on his face,” Jones said. “He makes coffee for everyone every day except me so I’ve got to put my order in a bit earlier. He’s getting fitter, he’s about 80 per cent fit at the moment, we’ve still got a little bit left to go with him and when he gets there he’ll be a handful. One of his greatest attributes is people like to play with him.

“That’s the reality. It’s scary if you have to mark him.”

Tuilagi’s midfield dominance gave Farrell and Ford plenty of options to attack with, given how much success Cokanasiga and Jonny May were finding out wide.

“It’s pretty clear for everyone to see what they offer,” Farrell added. “They are pretty hard to stop, and not just that, they are really hungry at the minute. They are in a good place, when you play alongside them that’s brilliant.”

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt was understandably unhappy with the performance even if it came in a warm-up match rather than when it matters in Japan next month, with his side conceding the records for the most points conceded, largest losing margin and most tries conceded to an England side.

"It was a litany of mistakes from us today to be honest, we were dishevelled," said Schmidt. "We didn't get our set-piece going, didn't really scavenge as well as we would have liked.

"We fell off 34 tackles, 21 in the first-half. It was tight in that first quarter, when we led 10-8 there was a bit of promise there. But it was very disappointing.”

Manu Tuilagi celebrates scoring England's third try against Ireland

The one concern for England is the fitness of Mako Vunipola. The prop came off the bench in the 61st minute to mark his return from hamstring surgery three months ago, only to depart when he felt a tightness in the same leg a minute from time.

“He just got bit of a twinge and it was more of a precaution to take him off,” said Jones. “Obviously he'll be investigated fully.”

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