For 40 minutes England had the southern Hemisphere scribes shuffling in their seats. Ford had a second touch in the first minute…wow! Brown was potent in attack, Itoje was everywhere, and England camped territorially. To win 25-21, be outscored 3-1 in tries however, stopped the shuffling.
England had early playing discipline, were direct, ran hard and straight, were physical, and as a team had presence. At 16-0 the pundits said England will run away with the game in the second half; that after only scoring one try! One minute into the second half Farrell going left to right off good phase play ball kicks 30 meters for touch and a Welsh throw!! That is not the mindset of a team player!! Manu will not kick! To have Joseph, Watson and Nowell outside you and kick is scandalous at least and maybe pandering to the naivety in the stands, they clapped!!
Billy is one–dimensional, he’s good at it, but against teams who play wider he is AWOL. New Zealand have pace and width in attack, read supports, and the current 21 year old running around at 8 for the Auckland Blues suggests no change of style. Eddie may be looking for an alternative style of player at 8?
Young’s had a balanced game, lots of variety and use of the blind side but when he chipped over into the opposing 22, why did both chasers charge at the winger? Surely one should have run at the only potential receiver of a pass, the full back, 2 meters from his own line?
Look at where Ford was standing when his kick was charged down, try! Ford still has time to develop into a good player but he is not learning from experience, at the moment.
As for Joubert and the TMO. From 12000 miles away Cole scored and Francis scraped his fingers deliberately across the face of Cole, end of story! For Wales another case of close but no cigar! When culture returned they scored 3 tries and when you have possession, you don’t have to miss tackles?
I sensed the Welsh players were a touch inhibited, didn’t look confident. If so then it’s a clear indicator that the coaching staff has run its course and change is needed.
The “crazy team” Italy continue to exasperate! Wild tap backs near their own try line, wayward passing, persistent off-side at the breakdown and possession without penetration, until it didn’t matter, all contributed to an emphatic Ireland win. Ireland play better when Sexton runs loops/circle balls, he creates openings for others and Earls and Zebo richly benefitted. The try of the tournament a product of good support play, accuracy and pace. For Italy only Wales remain in Cardiff? Gatland threatens changes, it is Italy’s only chance!
Scotland’s narrow win over France emphasised their improvement and if Australia have the Izzy factor, then Scotland have the Hogg factor. He kicks, runs, passes, plays outside the box (over-head tap on) and does it consistently for 80 minutes. You can clearly see the signs of Southern hemisphere coaching. A playing style is emerging, and Glen Jackson may have received an honorary kilt for the penalties he awarded and the “coming in from the side” he ignored.
France showed glimpses of another age. Great close quarter support, then width, then try. But inaccuracy of pass and missed penalty kicks and conversions let them down.
What does this mean for next week in Paris? It means an easy England win OR does it. Can England chase a win if France get ahead? Are England just too strong and well organised?
The English defence will be salivating over the long wild French passes, but if the passes stick, the French pack goes forward and the Marseillaise reverberates, Oo la la, a French win will push the EU off the front page of Le Monde and guarantee Nigel Owens the freedom of Paris…..and he will be a factor!
An English win will sell out the tour to Australia in June for sure!