Eddie Jones and England stars leap to Marcus Smith's defence

‘It made a lot of sense’: Eddie Jones and England stars leap to Marcus Smith’s defence after the fly-half controversially kicked the ball out of play for full time – instead of going for a late win – in 25-25 thriller against New Zealand

  • Marcus Smith controversially kicked the ball out of play instead of going for win 
  • England were on the front foot after a brilliant comeback against the All Blacks
  • Eddie Jones has defended his fly-half and said he trusts his players’ decisions 
  • England stars Owen Farrell and Ben Youngs have also defended Smith’s decision

Eddie Jones and his players defended Marcus Smith after the fly-half sparked boos by kicking the ball out at the end of England’s remarkable 25-25 draw against New Zealand.

England wiped out a 19-point deficit in the final 10 minutes, coming back from 25-6 down to level the game through two tries from replacement prop Will Stuart and a score from Freddie Steward.

But, with the clock beyond 80 minutes, Smith hoofed the ball out — rather than go for the win — much to the confusion and frustration of some inside Twickenham.

England head coach Eddie Jones has defended Marcus Smith’s controversial kick into touch

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he was surprised by England’s decision, claiming: ‘All I know is, if we flipped it over, I would have liked our guys to have a crack. So I don’t know what their tactics were.’

But Jones insisted the decision made ‘a lot of sense’.

‘It’s always up to the players, I trust their decision making,’ the coach said. ‘That’s the best 40 minutes I’ve seen Marcus play in Test rugby. Aggressive, decisive, he wanted to own the game… I thought that was a big step forward for the young man.’

Captain Owen Farrell explained: ‘We wanted to see where we were off the ruck… (if) we had an opportunity, we wanted to take it. If not we wanted to make a good decision. I think that’s what was done.’

Replacement scrum-half Ben Youngs conceded that ‘a lot of people won’t understand’ England’s decision but he, too, insisted it was the correct call.

‘It made a lot of sense’: Jones said he trusts his players and decisions are always up to them

‘Do we want to kick the ball out? No. But ultimately the right decision at that point was to kick the ball out,’ he said. ‘I’m sure people would have said we should have run it, but that’s not how it works. You run it, get jackaled, they kick the three (points) and everyone goes, ‘You should have kicked it out’.’

Until the closing stages, when New Zealand were down to 14 men, England struggled to make pressure count or take their opportunities.

Jones praised his side’s ‘tremendous spirit’, claiming he never felt the game was beyond them. But the coach admitted they needed someone to ‘blow some magic dust’ for things to click.

‘We’re disappointed we didn’t win the game but a draw is a draw. When you get absolutely pulverised by them like we were in the first half, and you don’t stay in the fight, you can get blown away. We stayed in the fight, the leadership in the team was outstanding.’

England somehow salvaged a 25-25 draw against the All Blacks despite a once heavy deficit

England looked out of the game but in the end fans will be disappointed they didn’t go for win

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