THE mischievous smile left Eddie Jones' face when the England boss was asked for his assessment of Wales under Wayne Pivac.

The Australian had already jibed about playing 16 men at the end of the 33-30 because of his feeling that the Triple Crown winners didn't get the rub of the green from referee Ben O'Keefe.

He had expressed his frustration about a red card for centre Manu Tuilagi, who was dismissed for a dangerous shoulder charge that caught George North high as the winger went for the line.

Jones' comments on those fronts didn't reflect well on the England coach – who should be disciplined by World Rugby for questioning the integrity of New Zealand official O'Keefe in such fashion – but then there was the other side of the Aussie at the end of the press conference.

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"I think it's a tough period for Wales," said Jones. "They have been through a fantastic period under Warren [Gatland].

"You look at their side, they had 850 caps. So it's a very mature team. Once you get to that many caps, you know there's some regeneration coming.

"That's the difficult part. The coach has changed and they've had a tough Six Nations. But, goodness me, if you're a Welsh supporter, you would be pleased with the spirit they showed.

"I thought they were outstanding and I think Pivac is doing a good job there.

"He's going to be feeling the heat a bit, but he's doing a really good job and you need to be a bit kind to him.

"For us, it was a good tough win against quality opposition."

Naturally such comments from Jones make you ponder his motivation – does he believe Wales aren't as big a threat under the expansive Pivac?

But the 60-year-old was actually providing the voice of reason despite the champions being condemned to a third defeat on the spin.

Gatland's reign had plenty of disappointments at the Aviva Stadium and Twickenham while he never had to face a French side as exuberant as the one that won in Cardiff in round three.

There are some encouraging signs under Pivac to go along with areas of concern but the new boss knows that Saturday's meeting with Scotland simply has to be a victory to ease the pressure before the summer tour to New Zealand.

Wales aren't title contenders in 2020 but there have been flashes of what is to come.

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They are certainly more exciting in attack and in Nick Tompkins have found a terrific centre, a timely discovery given Jonathan Davies' age and injury history.

The Saracens back, who is now tipped for a season with Cardiff Blues rather than the Scarlets, has racked up the line breaks and is a tough competitor despite his small frame.

His guile in attack is just what Pivac and assistant Stephen Jones are looking for in order, and Tompkins is only going to get better with more Test experience.

It was his invention early in the second half at Twickenham that gave Wales a real shot of victory in a game where they had been outplayed.

England led 20-6 when the clock went into the red courtesy of a fast start that had provided a try for right wing Anthony Watson from a slick lineout move and then a well-worked score by left wing Elliot Daly, after a knock-on and scrum penalty had pinned Wales in their 22.

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Dan Biggar had the final say of the half to make it 20-9 when the hosts opted against kicking the ball out and infringed in their own half.

Then Tompkins inspired a daring break out from the resumption, combining with Josh Navidi and Tomos Williams to put Justin Tipuric under the posts.

It was then that Wales showed the lack of balance that Pivac lamented post-match; the new boss wants enterprise but he also wants common sense.

They played in the wrong area to concede a pair of penalties that allowed England to settle their nerves.

Then the World Cup runners-up applied the killer blow to secure the Triple Crown, with a snipe by the impressive Ben Youngs followed by power and then a walk in for centre Manu Tuilagi.

At 33-16 it was game over but Wales did at least show the spirit that was a feature of the Gatland era.

Late tries for Dan Biggar and Tipuric against 13-man England ensured there was at least the consolation of a losing bonus.

In truth it didn't feel like a three-point game but losing to this powerful English side, who are impressive on home soil and whose brutal approach has accounted comfortably for New Zealand and Ireland recently, should not be reason for hitting the panic button.

Losing to Scotland, however, would put Pivac under pressure.

England: E Daly, A Watson, M Tuilagi, O Farrell (captain), J May, G Ford, B Youngs, J Marler, J George, K Sinckler, M Itoje, G Kruis, C Lawes, M Wilson, T Curry. Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie, E Genge, W Stuart, J Launchbury, C Ewels, B Earl, W Heinz, H Slade.

Scorers: tries – A Watson, E Daly, M Tuilagi; conversions – O Farrell (3); penalties – O Farrell (3), G Ford.

Wales: L Halfpenny, G North, N Tompkins, H Parkes, L Williams (J McNicholl 65), D Biggar, T Williams (R Webb 45), R Evans (R Carre 57), K Owens (R Elias 74), D Lewis (L Brown 40), J Ball (A Shingler 57), AW Jones (captain), R Moriarty (T Faletau 57), J Tipuric, J Navidi.

Scorers: tries – J Tipuric (2), D Biggar; conversions – D Biggar (2); penalties – L Halfpenny (2), D Biggar.

Referee: Ben O'Keefe (New Zealand)