Rugby-England's ever-improving May shows his class

22 Nov 2020 / 02:38 H.

    By Mitch Phillips

    LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Jonny May moved to joint second on the all-time England scorers' list on Saturday, scoring twice, including one sensational 90-metre effort, as England beat Ireland 18-7 in the Nations Cup at Twickenham.

    May had gone five games since his last score against France in February but he ended that dry spell after 17 minutes when he jumped high in the corner to catch an Owen Farrell kick and put England ahead.

    Soon afterwards, he got his second, a score that displayed not only his scorching pace but also his game intelligence. Ireland overthrew a lineout inside the England 22 and the backs moved the ball across to May 10 metres in front of the home tryline.

    He immediately zipped past Chris Farrell, kicked ahead and turned on the after-burners to reach the ball first, maintaining his balance and composure to kick the ball further over the line where he leapt on it and then into the arms of the celebrating England replacements.

    That took him to 31 tries, alongside Ben Cohen and Will Greenwood though still well adrift of the 49 of Rory Underwood.

    Asked to evaluate the winger's contribution, coach Eddie Jones was effusive. "He's right up there –- if you consider he's 30 and he's still improving every aspect of his game," the Australian said.

    "He's such a dedicated trainer and is obsessed about getting better. He's a great role model for all the players in all teams."

    May was certainly far from the finished article when he arrived on the international scene in the early days of the Stuart Lancaster era in 2013. He went seven games before bagging his first try against New Zealand in 2014 and was more noted for his sideways movement than the incisive lines he now finds.

    Determined to crack the highest level of the sport, he set up personalised sprint training and also worked on his aerial game to the point where he is now England's best player on the high ball.

    He scored a brilliant hat-trick in the 2019 Six Nations win over France and marked a career high with two tries in the World Cup quarter-final victory over Australia later in the year.

    "When you consider the player he was..." said Jones. "I remember watching him in the 2015 World Cup and at one stage he was going to end up in Row K. Now he's a serious finisher."

    (Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Clare Fallon)

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