England boss Eddie Jones hits the sweet spot, plus Scotland, Wales & Ireland

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England under Eddie Jones: What a difference a year makes

Every coach has high standards but I think England boss Eddie Jones' standards are higher than almost anybody's. Even more importantly, the players are responding, as 10 wins out of 10 illustrates.

This South Africa team is the poorest we've seen in a long, long time but England still needed to put them away. England hadn't beaten them in 10 years, the weather wasn't ideal and they hadn't played since completing a whitewash over Australia in June, so Saturday's 37-21 victory at Twickenham was a good result.

England's workaholics

One of the biggest changes since Jones took over last November is the England players' fitness levels. Jones has bags of experience and is speaking to players straight. And one of the things he will have told them is that they won't be great players unless they get fitter. So the players have listened and got fitter.

There's a great story about Ben Youngs: the Leicester scrum-half was considered to be overweight, so Jones kept showing him bags of sweets. If you don't get the message after that, you never will.

Ben Youngs
The live-wire Youngs sold Du Toit two expensive dummies, both of them leading to tries

Man of the match Youngs looked sharp against the Springboks. I don't know what Pieter-Steph du Toit's sight is like out of his right eye, because Youngs left him for dead twice with dummies, but Youngs spotted the opportunity and England had support runners on his shoulder both times to finish things off.

Billy Vunipola has also been released as a result of improved fitness, while Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes and Chris Robshaw were workaholics.

Jones is clever psychologically. During the Six Nations, he kept talking about Robshaw and James Haskell. After Saturday's match, the first person he mentioned was Robshaw. The two back-rows are elder statesmen and he's telling everyone that they're his best players. That's no coincidence. It's a message to the rest of the squad: come and knock these guys off.

England wins graphic under Eddie Jones

Jones never happy

Jonny May's try was beautifully crafted and executed, a genuine team try. The art of attack is fixing defenders, using dummy runners as smoke and mirrors, getting the ball in behind and finishing things off. At any time that move could have fallen down because of a poor decision or poor execution, but it didn't.

The summer tour of Australia went great but they conceded more tries than they scored, which would have been a concern. Jones brought in a specialist defence coach, Jason Ryles, from rugby league outfit Melbourne Storm, and for a lot of the game against South Africa the defence worked reasonably well.

There was a drop-off in intensity but that's to be expected given the gap between matches. The intensity will increase in the coming weeks.

I like the fact Jones never seems to be happy and keeps saying he wants England to be number one in the world. It won't be easy, and staying number one will be even more difficult than getting there in the first place. But there aren't many positions - the flankers, inside centre, both wings? - that aren't competitive and this is a very good England team in the making.

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England can get a lot better - Jones

Springboks in crisis?

To say South African rugby is in crisis is an exaggeration. But they are certainly not in a good situation, given their past status. When players started leaving South Africa, they were often vastly experienced and could adjust well to playing club rugby abroad and returning home for internationals.

But bit by bit, those players - people like Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Jannie du Plessis, Schalk Burger, Francois Steyn - have either drifted away, retired or their form has dropped, and nobody has stepped up to replace them.

Injuries have hurt them - they've had a host in the back row, including to Francois Louw and Duane Vermuelen - and they've not had a steady half-back partnership for the last few years. You're always going to struggle for stability and consistency if you don't have that.

Scotland close to clicking

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Highlights: Scotland 22-23 Australia

You've got to feel for Scotland - they will be hurting. Again. The win over Australia was theirs and the celebrations were on ice. But it all melted away in slightly unspectacular fashion.

Australia were down to 14 men, with Will Skelton in the sin-bin, but Scotland didn't play the percentages and the territory as they should have. As a result, Tevita Kuridrani ended up blasting through a couple of tackles - poor old Peter Horne is not going to be able to watch that replay - and scoring under the posts.

But Scotland did play some decent rugby. The Gray brothers, Jonny and Richie, were everywhere, between them they made 40-odd tackles and didn't miss one. And Jonny Gray in particular never seemed to be without the ball in his hands.

Glasgow fly-half Finn Russell is young and fearless and has some nice, deft touches. The fact that he's already got 20 caps to his name and is only 24 is good for the team.

Outside him, Huw Jones' first try showed great speed and change of direction, while the second showed how explosive he can be in a tight, confined space. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him.

Vern Cotter's side are waiting to click, and a victory over Australia might just have released them. It certainly would have locked away a few ghosts, following on from their last-gasp defeat by the Wallabies at last year's World Cup.

Scotland should expect to beat Argentina next week, despite the Pumas being ranked three places above them in sixth. They should certainly embrace the pressure of playing at home and not be afraid to expect to win.

Argentina will want to make it fast, loose and scary and put the likes of Joaquin Tuculet and Santiago Cordero in space. But Scotland will beat them with a more structured game.

Moriarty a 'mini-explosion'

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Davies stretches over as Wales retake the lead

After last week's poor display against Australia, it was just important for Wales to get a victory against Argentina. It wasn't a performance that made you go "wow" but the northern hemisphere sides are just getting back into the swing of things.

Argentina are a very good side with some classy, quality players, so Wales were never comfortable and never able to get away from them. But the return of Alun Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton helped keep them cool under pressure.

I liked the performance of Ross Moriarty at number eight. The Gloucester man is like a mini-explosion in a collision, whether he's carrying or putting in a tackle. Not many players manage to be that aggressive and maintain control. And if you're not winning collisions, you're going to be on the back foot.

Liam Williams was a real livewire on the wing but he needs to get the ball into his hands more often. I'd like to see him play at full-back, because at least then he'd be behind the play, able to see what was happening and get involved, rather than waiting out on the wing for the ball to come to him.

Wales are trying to build on what they started 18 months ago, which is using more dummy runners, putting the ball in behind, and looking for space either within that diamond shape or out wide.

In the build-up to Williams' try, they got it spot on and Dan Biggar ended up bursting through a gap - and it's not often you hear anyone say that. Most sides can't do it because their fitness doesn't allow them to, but if you can execute it, it's pretty much impossible to stop you.

Argentina play a very similar game to New Zealand, except they don't have as many world-class players. So they are going to make more mistakes, which will allow opposition teams to take advantage. When it sticks it's magnificent to watch; when it doesn't it looks as if they don't really know what they're doing.

But in Martin Landajo and Nicolas Sanchez they have a formidable half-back partnership and because of the way they play, they were never out of the game.

Irish young guns impress

A second-string Ireland side did what they were expected to do against Canada. But it was nice to see Joey Carberry and Gary Ringrose showing what they can do. The Leinster fly-half and centre respectively have great poise and understanding of the game and could be challenging for first-team places soon.

When Joe Schmidt took over as head coach in 2013, everyone was taken aback by the impact he had on Irish rugby. They won two Six Nations titles in a row but then big players retired and other teams seemed to have worked them out.

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Emerging Irish players keen to make impression

But Schmidt seems to have rejigged things, Ireland won in Cape Town in the summer and the performance in beating the All Blacks last week was incredible.

New Zealand hadn't lost in 18 games and not in 111 years against Ireland. But Ireland showed you can beat them playing a controlled, structured game.

You have to be phenomenally fit to implement that game plan and execute perfectly 99% of what you do, and even then New Zealand might only need that 1% to beat you.

When it was loose and frenetic in Chicago, the All Blacks ruled the roost. There was a period of New Zealand dominance that stemmed from Sexton kicking the ball out on the full. Ireland struggled to get their foot back on the throat of the snake that was trying to bite them for about 15 minutes and became inhibited.

I thought that maybe Ireland were gone, but they didn't freeze for long, maybe because they have been in the same situation in recent years and knew what they had to do.

But a repeat result in Dublin would be even better than their first, because it's not as if New Zealand have suddenly fallen off a cliff.

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