Jones hails England’s Vunipola as best No.8

Billy Vunipola runs into Matt Scott

England head coach Eddie Jones has hailed Billy Vunipola as potentially the best number eight in the world after his performance in England’s 9-15 victory over Scotland.

England lock George Kruis and wing Jack Nowell were the tryscorers in the match while inside-centre Owen Farrell kicked a conversion and a penalty to add to their scores while Scotland could only come up with three penalties from Greig Laidlaw.

Head coach Jones has been quick to single out man of the match Vunipola for special praise.

“I’ve read all the articles about him being too slow to play No. 8, so he’s doing a pretty good job as a slow number eight,” said the Australian, England’s first overseas head coach.

“I thought he was outstanding in his carry in and his defensive work.

“He can be the best number eight in the world. I have no doubt about that.

“He’s a big guy with footwork. He hasn’t used footwork much but he’s finally using it. He’s a fine reader of the game. He knows when to attack off the scrum-half.

“He’s got a good feel for the game, and he’s still a young boy. He’s 22 years old, so imagine when he gets a credit rating how good he’s going to be.”

The contest was no classic but, after the disappointment of England exiting their home World Cup at the pool stage last year, opening a new coaching era with a victory represented a satisfactory first step for Jones.

“You come up here and win the Calcutta Cup, score two tries to nil, and don’t get any injuries, so it’s been a good day at the office,” said the former Japan coach.

“The refereeing at the breakdown was difficult, so it was never going to be a free-flowing game. We had to adjust and I thought our second half performance was commanding.”

Reflecting on his first experience of the Six Nations, Jones added: “It was interesting coming here. We got off the bus and the Scottish were going crazy. ”

“There was one little English boy with his beanie [hat] on and for five minutes he yelled, ‘Come on England! Come on England!'”

“His voice was being drowned out but he kept going. It was a bit like the team today. We kept going. We kept plugging ahead and in the end we won the game easily.”

For Scotland, the defeat and the performance came as a backward step from the form that took them to the brink of the last four at the World Cup.

They have not scored a try at home to England since 2004 and have not won a home match against any country in the Six Nations since a 12-8 success against Ireland in February 2013, their worst run of results in the competition at Murrayfield since 1954.

They have also lost every opening game in the competition since 2006 and they head to Cardiff to face Wales next Saturday looking to end a run of eight successive Six Nations defeats home and away.

“It’s frustrating,” said Vern Cotter, who endured a whitewash in his first season as Scotland’s head coach last year.

“We probably weren’t accurate enough. As a team, we can get so much better.”

Scotland captain Laidlaw was blunter in his assessment.

“We’ve got to be brutal with ourselves and not make stupid mistakes,” he said.

“We’ve got to learn quickly – don’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

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