Eddie Jones believes England must beat the “greatest Welsh side ever” after they thrashed France 44-8 to set-up a Six Nations Grand Slam eliminator in Cardiff in two weeks time.

A Jonny May hat-trick helped England romp to a first-half bonus point at Twickenham, which was sealed when Henry Slade crossed the whitewash on the stroke of half-time.

France’s sole response came through a well-executed try in the 34th minute, but any hope of making a fight of it ended with the Slade score and while England were awarded a penalty try after the break – before Owen Farrell completed the scoring with the sixth of the afternoon – France failed to register a single point in the second half.

Jones has now seen his side deliver back-to-back victories in emphatic style after last weekend’s 32-20 win over Ireland in Dublin, but he believes that despite being the form side in Europe, they cannot take Wales for granted, “We’re playing the greatest Welsh side ever,” Jones said after the match. “We’re going to have to be at our absolute best. Preparation starts on Wednesday.

“You know you’re playing against a Warren Gatland side. He’s been at the top of the tree in European rugby for the last 15 years, through his club and country and the Lions.

“You’re playing against a tough, physical team. They contest hard at the breakdown. You’ve got to earn every point against them. We’ll start that on Wednesday and we’re looking forward to going down there. [It] should be fun.”

Wales are the only side left in the championship who can beat England to the Grand Slam, having won both of their opening matches over France and Italy. However, neither of those performances have come close to what England produced either in Dublin or here at Twickenham, and with the 2017 victory still fresh in the minds of the English squad, they will head to the Welsh capital as slight favourites.

England’s rapid rate of scoring in the first half saw May bag the first hat-trick seen at Twickenham since Jonathan Joseph’s against Scotland two years ago, with two of his scores coming as he raced onto the end of kicks from Elliot Daly and Chris Ashton, with Farrell teeing him up to dance over for a third score sandwiched in the middle.

The hat-trick was completed inside 30 minutes that effectively took the game out of France’s hands even before Damian Penaud scored their only try of the match, but it was the way England kept the pressure on when they could easily have let it subside in the second half that delighted Jones the most.

“I think when you put yourself in a position where after 40 minutes you’ve got a bonus point against a top team you’ve done pretty well,” Jones added. “And the second half I thought our performance was even better. Even though we didn’t score as many points, our focus and our discipline to keep France scoreless was outstanding.

“But we just had a quick chat in the room there and we felt we probably left 15 to 20 points on the field. There’s a lot more in this team and we understand that and we’re committed to being the very best we can be. When we get back together on Wednesday we’ll start the process of how we can get better again.”