England’s 18 in a row: How the record-equalling run unfolded

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England have matched New Zealand’s winning record of 18 Test victories on the trot. They now go for number 19 in Dublin on Saturday.

ESPN’s Tom Hamilton has been present at every match of this winning run, and here we pick out the key post-match take from each game of this remarkable run. From the bittersweet days of England’s Rugby World Cup pool stage win over Uruguay — the final match of Stuart Lancaster’s reign — to their Grand Slam last year, to the series win on Australian soil, ESPN was there to see it all.

Win one: England 60-3 Uruguay (Manchester, October 10 2015)

England’s win over Uruguay started their unbeaten run in what was Stuart Lancaster’s final game. (Photo by Richard Heathcote – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

The Verdict: “The repercussions from this game will centre around the question: why? Why exactly have England ignored Nick Easter over the last four years? Why was Danny Care not used during this competition? And why is this the first time England have given Henry Slade and Jack Nowell a run out in the World Cup? It adds to the feeling of this being a World Cup of ‘what ifs’ for England with that late call to kick for touch by Chris Robshaw in the Wales game chief among them.”

Win two: Scotland 9-15 England (Murrayfield, Feb. 6 2016)

Eddie Jones congratulates George Ford after they win the Calcutta Cup in 2016. David Rogers/Getty Images

The Verdict: “Let’s give credit to England’s areas of improvement. The pack showed more snarl than it has in a year with Mako Vunipola’s addition to the fray in the second half giving them a timely boost while his brother Billy was the worthy recipient of the Man of the Match award. At times he was playing Scotland on his own, carrying with ferocity and punching holes. His total of 52 metres made tells a story in itself. James Haskell was at his concrete best while Chris Robshaw performed well at blindside.”

Win three: Italy 9-40 England (Rome, Feb. 14)

The Verdict: “Two games gone, two wins and no tries conceded. It is the same form that kicked off England’s charge to the 1991 Grand Slam; it has taken them 25 years to start another championship as well. There is still an element of the unknown about this side. The eventual shellacking in Rome belied the first 50 minutes of the match where it was close. Italy, robbed of three players through injury in the first half, eventually ran out of puff. England went with a potent bench and that proved to be the difference with Danny Care’s entrance the catalyst for England’s eventual dominance.”

Win four: England 21-10 Ireland (Twickenham, Feb. 27)

Billy Vunipola’s stock continued to rise against Ireland. David Rogers – RFU

The Verdict: “It was a nervous atmosphere. The spectre of England’s World Cup disappointment hung over Twickenham. This was the first time the national team had played a full international here since being dumped out of their home World Cup by Australia in October. Billy Vunipola has emerged as their go-to man when in need of yards. He was fantastic for England and again carried time after time at the Ireland line.”

Win five: England 25-21 Wales (Twickenham, March 12)

The Verdict: “Doubt was starting to gnaw away at every sinew of the English DNA but then suddenly came relief when Manu Tuilagi was generously adjudged to have bundled North into touch with 15 seconds left. Tuilagi’s hit relaxed England’s shoulders and when Danny Care hit the most aggressive of spiral kicks into the crowd the exhale of relief turned into a guttural roar. From toying with the abyss of another Wales fightback, England are four for four under Eddie Jones and the feel-good factor has returned to Twickenham.”

Win six: France 21-31 England (Paris, March 19)

Dylan Hartley celebrates with the Six Nations trophy. Steve Bardens/Getty Images

The Verdict: “In the space of five months, England have gone from suffering the ignominy of their World Cup exit to being confirmed as the undisputed top team in Europe. An injection of a quick-tongued Australian, a couple of new faces, a return to the customary post-match beer in celebration, a recall for a fiercely talented hooker and an emphasis on player power and all is well in English rugby. The Grand Slam drought is over.”

Win seven: England 27-13 Wales (Twickenham, May 29)

The Verdict: “Jones said earlier in the week he knows his 15 for the first Test in Brisbane but the performances of Marland Yarde and Joe Launchbury — who were out of England’s XV in the recent championship — would have given him welcome food for thought. The duo played wonderfully with Yarde showing a similar hunger to his performance in the Challenge Cup final when he was by far Harlequins’ most effective player.”

Win eight: Australia 28-39 England (Brisbane, June 11)

James Haskell was a stand-out performers on England’s tour Down Under. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

The Verdict: “After weeks of pre-match hype, the Bodyline Battle of Brisbane delivered. It was bonkers, brilliance from England as they secured their most impressive win since their triumph over the All Blacks in 2012. Their pack put in a performance for the ages and as the wins pile up, Eddie Jones’ stock and reputation as the miracle-worker continues to rise.”

Win nine: Australia 7-23 England (Melbourne, June 18)

The Verdict: “History makers. England won a turbulent, bloody match of rugby through sheer grit, mental strength and a complete lack of regard for their own safety. They are now ranked second in the world — behind only the All Blacks — have sewn up a first-ever series win in Australia with a game to spare and have completed the most remarkable comeback seen by a rugby side in recent memory.”

Win 10: Australia 40-44 England (Sydney, June 25)

England captain Dylan Hartley leads his team’s celebrations with the Cook Cup. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The Verdict: “The class of 2016 will now be known as the clean-sweepers. The group of players who came to Australia as heavy underdogs, a team perceived to have little chances of winning a Test, let alone the series, but after a gruelling season they managed to get every last drive out of their legs to win 44-40. But how they were made to work for it.”

Win 11: England 37-21 South Africa (Twickenham, Nov. 12)

The Verdict: “It’s the mark of a good side that England can beat a team like South Africa without hitting top gear. They were marshalled by the brilliant Ben Youngs at scrum-half. His box kicks and passes were on point and it was no coincidence that it was his darting run in the 44th minute to tee up the try for George Ford which ended this as a contest. He followed this up with a near-identical piece of skill to tee up Owen Farrell after 68 minutes.”

Win 12: England 58-15 Fiji (Twickenham, Nov. 19)

The Verdict: “For the first 30 minutes England played with a wonderful fluidity, exploiting Fijian lapses and lack of organisation to rack up a point a minute. But then the England systems started to creak, holes opened and suddenly the intensity had gone. The second half was at times played at walking pace with only momentary bursts from the Fijians and England’s back three interrupting the odd half cooked version of Swing, Low.”

Win 13: England 27-14 Argentina (Twickenham, Nov. 26)

Elliot Daly is consoled by Dylan Hartley after being shown a red card David Rogers – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

The Verdict: “When England reflect on this match at the end of the year, they will remember a game where this was as much a test of their physical capability as it was mental. Despite having the man down , they stayed together and played brilliantly to see off the Pumas. This may prove to be the defining match of a year which has already seen them win a Grand Slam and a series in Australia.”

Win 14: England 37-21 Australia (Twickenham, Dec. 3)

The Verdict: “They have won 13 from 13 this year but more importantly, have developed a mental strength to draw themselves back together when faced with sporting adversity. This was a match they could have lost. But that warrior spirit they showed in the second Test against Australia in Melbourne and for the bulk of the game against Argentina was evident again as they scored two tries in five second-half minutes to end this as a contest.”

Win 15: England 19-16 France (Twickenham, Feb. 4, 2017)

The Verdict: “England coach Eddie Jones calls his replacements “finishers,” and with good reason. It was their impact that swung this Six Nations game back in England’s favour as the team continued their unbeaten run with a victory over France on Saturday. But for 70 minutes of this match, Les Bleus caused all sorts of problems.”

Win 16: Wales 16-21 England (Cardiff, Feb. 11)

England celebrate Elliot Daly’s late score against Wales — the second time in this Six Nations where they have won a match in the final 10 minutes. (Photo by Steve Bardens – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

The Verdict: “Sometimes rugby makes little sense. Wales were magnificent in this 21-16 defeat, and the atmosphere was intoxicating, yet somehow England clung on by their fingernails to even have a shot at the win. Then, with four minutes left, Elliot Daly darted down the wing to break Welsh hearts and extend this most remarkable of runs under coach Eddie Jones.”

Win 17: England 36-15 Italy (Twickenham, Feb. 26)

The Verdict: “For the first time in the Eddie Jones era, England were left searching for answers. Sure, they went on to beat Italy and get the bonus point with six tries, but England spent the first half asking referee Romain Poite for clarification of the ruck laws as the Azzurri wreaked havoc by doing something bafflingly simple: they refused to compete at the breakdown.”

Win 18: England 61-21 Scotland (Twickenham, March 11)

Dylan Hartley celebrates with the Calcutta Cup Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The Verdict: “Scotland were hamstrung with injuries, with discipline and accuracy letting them down, but this was a match where the real England stood up. There was a nasty, brilliant ruthlessness about this England side; no opportunities were squandered and despite having their foot on Scotland’s throat from minute two when Fraser Brown was sin-binned, they kept on increasing the pressure.”

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England’s 18 in a row: How the record-equalling run unfolded

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