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Moment of madness gives England edge

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Tom Fordyce | 22:34 UK time, Saturday, 6 February 2010

A stadium packed to the steel girders with 80,000 screaming fans should be an impossible place to be alone, but for Alun Wyn Jones, Twickenham in the chill Saturday gloaming must have felt like the loneliest place in the world.

A split second of madness, a championship spoiled for one side and saved for another. It sounds too stark and too severe - we're one round in, with hours of rugby yet to be played - but this most enduring of tournaments provides the most exposed of stages.

When Wyn Jones left the field after tripping Dylan Hartley, the match was poised at 3-3 and bang in the balance. By the time he returned, 10 minutes of game-time later, England were 17 points clear.

There was room for ebb and flow afterwards, for an almost-comeback of epic proportions and a stirring grandstander of a last 15 minutes, but the key play in the day had been made. And if the scoreboard didn't tell you enough, the coaches' faces afterwards did.

Wales coach Warren Gatland could barely disguise his fury; Shaun Edwards couldn't. You could forgive the second row if he decided to change his name to Alun Wince Jones. "Shaun told Alun at half-time, I just hope you never do that again in your career," said Gatland, with the air of a man who has witnessed one of the great ear-bashings.

"We've talked about discipline all week, and then that happens. It was massive. "

Alun Wyn Jones

For Martin Johnson, there was a certain sweet irony in it all. Last season England's hopes were wrecked by their own indiscipline, summed up by the moment Danny Care got himself sin-binned in Dublin and sent Johnson into a fearsome fist-thumping fury.

This time around, Care epitomised everything that was better about England. After the dismal, leaden autumn internationals, here was a little pace, here was sometimes quick thinking - hell, here was even the occasional moment of spontaneity.

It might not always have been pleasing on the eye. There might have been scrappiness and errors aplenty to go with the drama and tension, and a period in the second half where the wheels wobbled if not quite came off completely, but if ever a game was all about the win, this was it.

Both teams were desperate for something after a run of results that has raised significant questions about exactly where they were heading. For both, with eminently winnable games up next, Saturday was either going to launch them into this Six Nations with momentum and renewed belief or leave them listing and listless.

Despite that stirring second-half fightback, it's Wales who will spend the rest of the campaign playing catch-up. They have now lost nine of their last 18 internationals, a record that does a disservice to the quality of both their players and management.

For England, there is finally some sunshine and optimism after a run of performances that had left Twickenham at best bored and at worst openly mutinous.

The last time they ran out in a new shirt, against Argentina three months ago, they produced a mauve mess. This time the cream colours clothed a display that left Johnson at times purring like the cat with the proverbial. Even his under fire skipper Steve Borthwick had a stormer, stealing line-outs and ripping the ball from Welsh hands on several key occasions.

"We've all been there and done silly things that had an influence on the game," said Johnson, "but the good thing from our point of view is that we turned that pressure into scores. They didn't give us those 17 points - we still had to score them.

"There are lots of things we need to improve on, but ultimately we found a way to win. We've been in games like that and lost them."

For all the pre-match talk of an expansive running game, the man of the match was a blind-side flanker, the first home try from an old-fashioned forward rumble that wouldn't have been out of place in 1991 or 1980. James Haskell hasn't always been everyone's cup of tea, but this was his best performance in an English jersey.

"That's probably the most nervous I've been for an England game," he said afterwards, pumped up with adrenaline, talking on fast forward. "Wales are a team who can cause chaos, but today we stuck together as a team and imposed ourselves on them. There's always a sense of desperation when you're under your posts and you're suddenly only three points ahead, but we kept calm."

Haskell was on the pitch two years ago when England famously threw away a 13-point lead, and conceded the penalty that allowed James Hook to kick-start the comeback that day. Hook's twinkle toes threatened an even bigger turnaround this time, but whereas in 2007 it was an English loose pass that sealed the result, this time it came from Stephen Jones as Wales threw caution to the late winds.

The visitors, for all their dominance in the scrum, struggled at line-outs (seven won, five lost). Matthew Rees was missed more than Gethin Jenkins. While there was the trademark adventure and flair, there were also too many errors - 19 when in possession to England's 12. Gareth Cooper's pass was as patchy as it has been all season, and Jamie Roberts failed to make the impact many had anticipated against the lightweight England midfield.

England remain a side in transition, not transformed. There was still a robotic feel to parts of their play, problems up front and no great chemistry from 10 through to 13. Equally, their second try demonstrated a quickness of ball and mind and that had been almost entirely absent for the past eight months.

Thanks to Wyn Jones and that moment of madness, they have a platform and purpose again. Whether it can be sustained for the rest of the campaign is another matter, but in an otherwise bleak midwinter, there are green shoots visible. If nothing else, it's been a long time since anyone saw so many home supporters leaving Twickenham with smiles on their faces.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Wales lost this rather than England winning. Even injury hit Wales had far more ability man to man - they lost it on a poor line out, a yellow card and an interception. Wales can play a lot better - England probably can't. That is the scale of England's problem.

  • Comment number 2.

    Blah blah blah... Typical welsh - no-one ever beats them, they just score more points! Stick to soccer, since you obviously don't know 'hammersmithjack' about rugby.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    "Wales lost this rather than England winning. Even injury hit Wales had far more ability man to man - they lost it on a poor line out, a yellow card and an interception. Wales can play a lot better - England probably can't. That is the scale of England's problem."

    Injury-hit Wales? What about injury-hit England, who were missing Sheridan, Mears, Vickery, Croft, Rees and Flutey? Given the relative strength and experience of the two sides, I think a 30-17 victory is pretty resounding... Wales didn't threaten the English line until the final quarter.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm shuddering amidst the bulging muscles...

  • Comment number 7.

    i personally took great pleasure in england stuffing the welsh once again, order seems to be restored.the team was a great deal more exciting and threatening to watch, and i think the slightly more attacking and zippy back line contributed to this immensely. johnson has finally moved from a bulky and defensive set of centers to a far more risky but potentially lethal selection, and with the likes of tait and flood/flutey, it seems england finally have a threat other than wilkinsons boot. by no means the finished product, however the improvement in the english game cannot go unnoticed. this six nations campaign is going to be the build up to the world cup johnson had hoped for, and i think it is from this game onwards that the other teams in world rugby will sit up and consider england as a major force to be reckoned with. the perfect start, and come the end of this six nations i think the improvement in english rugby will be even more profound. finally something to cheer about!

  • Comment number 8.

    Let's not get carried away England were a lot, lot better. Wales were not at their best. I'm glad that Care made some breaking runs, but quite frankly, i'm more worried that we don't have Cipriani in the squad - I think Wilkinson is superb, and i would always have him in the squad (maybe even at inside centre) but if England are going to play an expansive game we need ingenuity at and an ability to break the gain-line at fly half. That's either Geraghty or Cipriani.

    As an aside, I think Tait is superb and should be given an extended run.

  • Comment number 9.

    I thought England played well; add a couple props and Flutey to that mix and they look like they're getting close to being a team to be reckoned with.

  • Comment number 10.

    The facts are that Wales were the strongest looking side. They had absorbed the early English pressure, fluffed a couple of well deserved penalties, and found themselves taking the game by the scruff of the neck at 3-3. They were started to respond to solidly to everything England were throwing at them, and I was sensing they were starting to dominate possession.

    Then a cynical trip, in front of the ref, left Wales exposed. England showed class in making the advantage of 1 extra player count to the tune of 17 points.

    Wales were again dominant in the game with 15 players, and brought it back from 20 - 3 to 20 - 17. If it hadn't had been for the 14 men, Wales would not have been in the position of chasing the game. They looked due to score another try to take the lead, and were definitely looking menacing, and on track to somehow get the media off Alun Wyn Jones' back on Sunday morning. The turn around looked probable, and not just possible. But then a moment of thoughtless indiscipline, and a touch of exposed desperation, forced an interception with put the game out of reach.

    Wales lost this game on two specific incidents, and if those were eliminated, the conclusion would be that, as a unit, Wales were playing the better overall rugby. It is therefore very very frustrating for Gatland and his men that their season is already dead, when they could have taken a top scalp if they had held their discipline. The whole season has little to fight for now. It is one thing to go out there, give it your all, and get taken to task by the better side. These things are explained by destiny. But to field a team that clearly shows the ability to take the win, to then basically grab defeat from the jaws of victory, by gifting the opposition all their advantages, is a really frustrating way to begin a competitive 6 nations tournament.

    On a technical issue, Wales have some big selection issues. They are missing a natural scrum held, and the number 10 jersey is in need of a new owner who can inspire the line.

    I thought England played well, and were professional to capitalize on the mistakes gifted to them to the maximum, but on the whole, I see the side as lacking overall Grand Slam talent. Easter was just an awesome presence today.

    Excellent that there was no minute silence, but a minute of cheering and applause. What a complete success that was. An excellent way to remember our heroes.

  • Comment number 11.

    Let's enjoy the win but not get carried away.
    It was a game of inches.
    AWJ's decision to stick out a leg was the biggest result-affecting factor.
    Although we had a lot of possession early on, we were going backwards with most of it.

    The worrying thing for me is that 15v15, I couldn't see us scoring a try. (the one we got 15v15 was a result of the Welsh do-or-die approach at the end). It could easily have gone the other way.

    30-17 sounds quite impressive, but those of us who watched the game know that it wasn't that easy and that a final score of 20-24 was only inches away from happening.

    Good things:-
    1. We won
    2. Discipline was good (better)
    3. Jonny's kicking

    Bad things:-
    1. Still lacking "flair" (or the permission to use it)
    2. over-dependent on Jonny's kicking

  • Comment number 12.

    Firstly, I am pleased and relieved to see some of the English fans' pragmatism here. You're not going to win the championship on the back of performances like that. Yesterday afternoon was a squeakingly close run thing. It could have been a lot closer had those early penalties been kicked - where was Lee Halfpenny by the way, Warren? - and Shaw's professional foul on Gareth Williams in the lead up to Care's try been noted - but that's what rugby's all about. It was a more entertaining game to watch for that.

    However, practically speaking, Martin Johnson was right when he said that England still had to score the points when a man up - Wyn Jones didn't just hand them to England, so well done them - but SmartAlex was also right when he noticed the difference between 14-man and 15-man Wales. So both teams will have learnt a lot from this performance - Wyn Jones I hope more than most - but perversely I think that the losers can take more heart from the game and I, for one, think they'll make the most of it.

  • Comment number 13.

    I want to pick up on the most contentious issue of all, Tom & all journalists take note.

    The player "Wyn Jones", or "Wyn-Jones" does not exist. His surname is JONES. His FIRST names are used together as ALUN WYN (it's a traditional Welsh format). It's not like Ward-Smith, Du Plessis or even Bin Laden.

    It's like Sarah Jane or Anne Marie, and frankly today, he played like the pair of them.

    Call him AW Jones if you like, BUT HE'S NOT WYN JONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    I have to say as a Wales fan who was pretty worried about the outcome of this game prior to the match I was pleasently suprised with the general performance with the exception of the lineout. The 17 points conceded whilst AW Jones was in the sin bin obviously cost us the game but in some respects it is better that we didn't lose someone for 10 minutes because of pressure but actually for stupidness. Gatland and Edwards will not allow that sort of indicipline to continue in this tournament and with the return of Matthew Rees the lineout should sort itself out.
    Tom James although very good for Cardiff is not good enough as an international wing, James Hook should not be kicking for goal and Gareth Cooper should not be in the squad.
    With Rees, Jenkins, Halfpenny (as long range gaol kicker) and Peel back in I really do think there is a lot to play for.
    We lost to a decent England team playing some good rugby so I certianly beleive taht with better discipline we could challenge Ireland and France and with results going our way the tournament may not be over at the first hurdle.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think they must have been showing a different England-Wales match to the one that some people are commenting on!!! Obviously, a moment of madness gave England 17 unanswered points - but it needed a very professional job by the boys during that time to get them.
    When Jones came back on Wales were creaking horribly - even the French commentators who HATE seeing England playing well were talking of it becoming a rout...
    And then, just after the try early in the second half, a blind throw instead of a real pass (overconfidence?) saw ball reclaimed by Wales and led directly to their try... and their revival. England nearly threw the game with that "pass"...
    Fortunately they were able to not only weather the ensuing red storm, but even steal a beautifully executed interception. Everyone talks about interception tries as if they are all handed on a plate, but they guys had a lot of work to do to finish it and they did it well.
    England were far from perfect, but for once, lets give them some praise - they stopped a good Welsh team playing its game and deserved a victory. MJ's trust in Tait, Haskell and co paid off. Lets give the guy some credit now - I too have questioned his approach in the Autumn, but with the New Year comes a new start...

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    England were much better than I thought they were going to be, but at time they did seem to lack any penetration. There were quite long periods where they struggled to get over the gain line, and really only managed to impose themselves after AW Jones got 10 mins for being an Idiot.

    Wales were better in the loose, but despite that I don't think we should be too worried about next weeks trip! (I may need to revise this comment after today's game)

    Ireland never got out of 2nd gear, it was a dull game but they came through comfortably.

    Still going with

    1. France
    2. Ireland
    3. Wales
    4. England
    5. Scotland
    6. Italy

    Still think that England could either finish above wales, but could also easily finish below Scotland.

  • Comment number 18.

    England will now complete the Grand Slam, World Cup, Superbowl, Ashes etc etc.
    I'm sure the Tri-Nations Teams are quaking in their boots after that display.

  • Comment number 19.

    Listen here "idbar" My patience is running thin with critics like you commenting and insulting the ballsio. I am the master of all sport and my opinion counts for more than any other's on this blog. My muscles bulge with true fury the likes of which your eyes will never have seen. On this note, the ballsio reigns supreme.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ok so Eng won but let's be honest wales played some decent rugby for about a total of 15 mins and england for about 40 or 45. if eng want to improve (and wales for that matter) they need consistency of selection and that means playing people even if there are not top of their game.....imagine what we would be seeing out of mathew tait had yesterday been his 30ish odd starting cap at outside centre - I truly believe he could have been running the show. Danny Care frustrates me sometimes but if the engalnd selectors think he his a better player than hodgson and ellis, then stick with him even if he's not playing brilliantly. One of the main reasons that Aus consistently over achieve is that they are excellent at identifying decent young players and bringing them into the team and sometimes they have shockers and sometimes they have stormers - look at Will Genia - has hardly played top grade back in aus but gets selected for country, plays brilliantly against eng and will continue to do so..... I just hope eng selectors persevere with the team. Also worth noting that Borthwick is an excellent case in point. Although I am not a fan personally, he's been chosen and stuck with and has been absolutely sensational in the last three games he's played - yes that's right sensational - look at the tpaes if you don't beleive me and just watch his performance in the lineout and at ruck time - simply awesome - (that should get a few people going!!!!)

  • Comment number 21.

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  • Comment number 22.

    20. At 09:58am on 07 Feb 2010, sleepingbear wrote:

    imagine what we would be seeing out of mathew tait had yesterday been his 30ish odd starting cap at outside centre

    --------------------------------------

    It was Tait's 31st cap....

  • Comment number 23.

    First off, a bog congrats to England, and MJ, well done. I thought MJ was very honest in saying England played very well at times and at others there were ala=rming mistakes, especially defensively, that made the game a nail biting affair for English fans. With a completely fit welsh front row and a bit more discipline Wales might well have won, and to be honest given such a lot of early posession England looked somewhat pedestrian with ball in hand. Danny Care had an interesting match, some awful mistakes but then a few great sniping runs that introduced doubt in the minds of the Welsh, and one of these break lead to the second try. After such a lot of negative comments after the autumn and calls for heads to roll, some people should be eating humble pie. Wilko's kicking yesterday was almost perfect, and I don't agree with those who argue he cannot get the line moving. He does it for Toulon, he has done it for England in the past. There was tight Welsh defense, and tait had little room until the interception when he showed how good he really is with a turn of speed, and slick pass for Haskell to score. Up front things went well. Easter did well, England were superior at the linout and just about matched Wales in the front row battle. Again too much turnover ball given away...this is really a dangerously prown area for England, and the generation of fast ball when in attacking positions to bring in the centres and wings will complete the picture. But given discipline England can build on this and my bet is that Tait, and or Monye/Cueto and Armitage coming in from full back will be big threats and will score tries for England. There is no doubt in my mind that MJ is right to make Borthwick, KW, Cueto, Shaw the experienced backbone of the side. I hope that by the end of this six nations more of Englands critics will be eating their words and wiping the egg of their faces, but it will take a massive disciplined effort from England, and the courages to run at defences, be unpredictable, and show some flair awswell as discipline.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Is there any reason why we dont get a players rating blog post for the 6 nations or did they start to get out of hand????

  • Comment number 26.

    How satisfying it is to see us beat Wales. They are a good side and I would take a win over them any day. Contrary to what some people are saying, it's not justified to say we are relying too much on Jonny's kicking. Everyone is expected to play a role and Jonny played his very nicely. Wales more or less lost this game but it's hardly England's fault that Wyn Jones decided to stick his leg out.

  • Comment number 27.

    A W jones cost us the game , what a stupid thing to do .I think gatland should take some of the blame selection was wrong from the start gareth cooper has not played well all season rees should have started or martin roberts , james is not a international wing you can see it a mile off he made far to many mistakes and you dont get many chances at the top level and you got to take them halfpenny should have started he would have taken the try that james missed and done better when put in space and he is a long distances kicker which we needed. on a positve james hook was class what a try thats what this guy can do if given the ball he not had good press as bigger is taken the spot light off him but he was our best back yesterday. other players who stood up were M.williams / P.JAMES / R.POWELL/R.JONES. we needed a big game next week to get back on track .

  • Comment number 28.

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  • Comment number 29.

    Alun Wyn did cost us the game, however I also feel that a lack of genuine line-out forwards did us some damage too. You can't win a rugby game without line-out ball. The only 2 proper line-out jumpers we had were the two second rows, none of the back-row were what you'd call jumpers. Jonathan Thomas needs to start at no.6 in place of Andy Powell. Thomas would give us this extra option in the lineout that we need (and might also try to find gaps when running with the ball rather than the braindead "find an opposition player, and run into him" apparoach that Powell seems to adopt).

    That's not to say that the hooker wasn't at fault either, losing the first 3 balls on your own throw is enough to dent anyone's confidence, we didn't have a chance after that. The sooner Matthew Rees gets back, the better. And please please please get rid of Gareth Cooper, I understand why he was picked for the game, experience. But his distribution was terrible today, Richie Rees looked far better in the time he had on the field, and indeed is the man keeping Cooper out of the Blues' side.

    And Halfpenny should have started rather than Tom James.

  • Comment number 30.

    From an England point of view

    Props were poor; if we play against Italy with them we will be killed (unless we get the ref from the Ire Ity game

    Borthwick and Shaw were immense although Shaw needs to watch his discipline
    Haskell and Moody were brilliant and Moody OK

    Cares running was good, but losing the ball at the scrum and stuttering steps before passing to Fly half don't help JW positioning

    JW kicking was peerless, Defence was pretty good, passing was OK but he stood to deep
    Toby Flood is not an inside centre England need a real inside centre who plays there regularly
    Tait was brilliant, particularly the break away try, having decided he only 50-50 for the score change of direction and put Haskell away, now we nee to clone a slightly large version for 12

    Cueto was good, although he could have been more vocal at the end of the first half, but the white line mist had descended on the forwards Armitage played well in attack, and his kicking was good, with a strong chase from all the backs (which every bother team failed to do yesterday), but his catching was a little suspect if challenged at all.

    Monye was absent for most of the game.

    So a good start but not a brilliant performance.

    It would have been a very different result if a couple of the following were true

    1) Stephen Jones attempted the longer kicks instead of Hook
    2) Gethin had been playing
    3) Rees had played
    4) AWJ had not let his frustration take over for his thought processes
    5) The referee had seen the Shaw trip leading up to Care try (Sin Bin)

    And I actually thought that Jamie Roberts or James Hook should have been MOM, because without them Wales would have made the come back and the game would have been boring

  • Comment number 31.

    I felt that Wales lost this one rather then england won it - a silly moment of utter stupidity by Jones left a big hole in the Welsh lines. If england are to go forward with a wining spree they have to tighten up in all positions. They probably won't get handed such luxuries in the games to come. At full strength Wales were far the better side creating more chances and without a shaddow of a dought would have won the game comfortably.

  • Comment number 32.

    Not the best game i've ever witnessed - hopefully i will forget it soon!

    But frankly I knew before the match Wales had no chance and England just needed to turn up for the win, and it was with great pleasure that this happened. Wales as a fixture in the six nations is back where it belongs, a given, like playing scotland or italy, sure you can still lose to both but you shouldn't!

    England have a good team and with this win and Italy up next momentum will start and a grand slam is on the cards.
    What gives me the most pleasure is, post No.10 on here, reading that post reminds me of my thoughts on England a couple of years ago, the poster is convinced his side are world beaters but it is everyone else's fault they keep losing and not playing well!! Sorry chap but you're in for a few miserable years hook and roberts are two world class players but the rest of your side are distinctly average, i'm afraid you will be blaming refs, sin bins other sides cheating etc etc for a long time!!

    Role on Ireland in 3 weeks time i cannot wait for us to comfortably beat them and show them up as a very average team the natural order of the six nations is returning - it's between france and england all the other games are just foreplay!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Was post number 32 watching the same as the rest of us?

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Accelerator - you miss my point, yes it was his 31st cap but it was

    a) NOT his 31st cap at OUTSIDE CENTRE

    b) it was not his 31st STARTING cap and

    c) it is his FIRST START SINCE 2007 in and england team

  • Comment number 36.

    Nice chat SmartAlex - agree with a lot of that.

    owsyerip - more than fair. AWJ tends to get written by us as Wyn Jones only to distinguish him from Ryan/Stephen etc, but it's not grammatically correct.

    Gareth - agreed re Cooper and Tom James. Replacements could maybe have come earlier too.

    TazFalklands - Jamie Roberts as motm? Really?

    Howard Ballsy - give it rest, son...

  • Comment number 37.

    I see no other comment about further welsh indiscipline that could easily have resulted in a much earlier sin-binning - Wilkinson kicks clear and receives both a deliberate kick on the thigh and a flailing hand across the face. It was a borderline late tackle as well but i'll give wales the benefit of the doubt there as to whether the tackler took off before or after the kick.

  • Comment number 38.

    I haven't seen any comments relating to it so far, but I wondered what people thought of the "spider-cam" used by the BBC? This was the overhead camera that plagued the first half, providing dizzying and unhelpful perspectives of live play. I think that odd angles like this do not function as well as traditional angles during live play. On replays, to demonstrate aspects of a successful (or unsuccessful) sequence of play, these angles can be useful, but otherwise they detract from the game.

    I got the impression someone else must have thought this, because during the second half the "spider-cam" was used far less.

    Any thoughts?

  • Comment number 39.

    England are a poor, weak, imagineless side who lack effective leadership from a manager who just shouldn't be there. Wales are a good side, but didn't perform yesterday. Had this match been at Cardiff, Wales would have won. It was a quite fortunate win.

  • Comment number 40.

    Fairly spot on from Tom,

    Well done England the best team won the game. We cant argue with that scoreline. Not sure if Fra/Ire will be too worried by either side though.

    Being a taff i will still have my SMALL bias as we all do but am more worried about next game for Wales now.

    Yesterday at the start we drove Englands back 20-30 yards after they stole back theyre own kick off. I havnt seen that in this fixture in my 35 years! This was repeated several times during the 1st half but the English knew that as long as they held the ball Wales could not score.

    My immediate worry is that we kicked possesion away with all the frequency of the AI's and werent good enough to win the ball back AGAIN!!

    At no time in the 1st 20 mins did I think that we would lose game as we were the only side breaking the gain line. Unfortunately the English kicking game (which wasnt great but better than Wales' aimless pot shots to nowhere) was being followed up by at least a couple of challengers and every knock-on gave England field position. Not even bthering to talk about AWJ.

    Wales Good. Hook at 13........any1 spot anything else?

    Wales Bad. Gareth Williams, Charteris(why not throw to him?), Cooper, Byrne, kicking game to name the worst!


    At this point may i congratulate England again. I think that Johnny has to go for the sake of the team though. Alot of running into dark alleyways where a team better than Wales would have turned over more ball. Tait didnt do too much and was well covered till he sublimely offloaded like an AB at pace. Brilliant play as the breakaway try WAS put away by the backs and wasnt a given.

    England good. Easter, Borthwick (saw him more as a weakness tbh), Hartley, patient play.

    England bad. AGAIN no real angles/ideas at pace as backline doesnt get decent ball from JW. England scrum shows lack of depth with front row injuries. Wont include any players in the bad as they all won unlike Wales' players.

    Abslutely gutted today as was expecting a real cracker of a game! Wales could have won this game in 1st half with more than 10 min possesion as we were on front foot with ball in hand. Credit to England who took their chances( still think 1st scrum collapse just before HT was pen to Wales and England scored from next scrum, these are the finite points of game) and will get all the confidence that they have lacked going forward.

    Cmon Wales all is not lost yet.

  • Comment number 41.

    Bring it on ball ache oops sorry, baldy oops sorry, ballsy

  • Comment number 42.

    Tom, to get a player's name wrong is not a "grammatical error", it is to make a mistake with the basic facts of the game. You might as well say that England played Whales and think that's OK!

    Cooper was rubbish - no coincidence that our 15min of decent play was when he went off.

    We were unlucky that AWJ's trip was a match-defining moment of foolishness while the Shaw got away with a similar level of foul to give Care his break and a try, but that's the way it goes and we didn't really make much of our own luck 'til very late on.

    The spider cam was confusing and should be used for half/full time replays only and the producers really need to understand that we want to see the live action more that the replays... it's really frustrating to miss lineouts, penalties and scrums all the time for some slow-motion replay or "analysis".

  • Comment number 43.

    Next time you write up a game you might like to report the final score.

  • Comment number 44.

    I feel the same about the 'spider cam' as the you lads , most of the time i wasn't quite sure which way the action was going , and when it was used behind a kicker -Hookie or dear Jonny it was difficult to tell if the ball was actually - i know i have opened myself up for a kicking here : 0 )

  • Comment number 45.

    sorry - if the ball was actually over !

  • Comment number 46.

    Think that England played OK, but they got a bit nervous when in the sort of winning positions that they have lost previously.
    Always make me wonder with the "if this hadn't happened" bloggers e.g had AW Jones not been sin binned or even if Wales had sorted their line out.
    1) It did happen
    2) There are always such things e.g what if Englands scrum had been better?
    3) It'd be a different game - England may not have been so nervous having a lead to defend etc..

    Thought both sides played OK given it was the opener and key injuries. Not so impressive, but neither were Ireland or Italy so that leaves just two sides to be far better!

  • Comment number 47.

    "5) The referee had seen the Shaw trip leading up to Care try (Sin Bin)"
    I've only seen this a couple of times in real-time but it looked to me to be a good clear out of the ruck by Shaw - he just wiped Williams out in the way that he did for the Lions in the 2nd and 3rd Tests - as Moore said at the time, it looked like "perfectly good forward play".

  • Comment number 48.

    people seem to have picked up on the simon shaw "trip" but as far as i can see that was a perfectly acceptable stretching of the rules - the welsh hooker was a part of the ruck, and was quite legally taken out. The fact he fell over and left a whole says more about the lack of welsh defence than it does about england "cheating". The Welsh discipline was awful - the late hit on Jonny as someone else mentioned could quite easily have seen him in the bin. And AWJ - what a muppet.

    Still nice to see England win the game, good confidence boost and hopefully we can build from here.

  • Comment number 49.

    I should resist the extended connotations of observing how enjoyable it is to listen to the Welsh "bleating" - but I can't.

    Following the Welsh logic that the game was lost because of the (well deserved) yellow card may I also apply this to England - and conclude that if England had not endured the many (equally well-deserved) yellow cards in 2009 they would have won the Grand Slam?

    Try some English logic - you just weren't good enough.

  • Comment number 50.

    England beat a depleted but nevertheless good Welsh side and from an English perspective that’s good news.

    England will get better as the tournament progresses – maybe it’s time for some guarded optimism.

    The exiled taff in our office is strangely quiet today – I wonder why?

  • Comment number 51.

    Wales will still have a big say in this tournament. once they had 15 men back on the field they were breaking the gainline with ease, and looked very dangerous. Two poor pieces of judgement cost Wales 24 points, and that was that.

    England looked slightly more dynamic than in the autumn, but for me Johnny was still far too deep far too often. I would love to see Flood given a chance at FH next week against Italy. We'll see. Big praise for the England lineout, and in particular Borthwicks role in it, as it was almost totally dominant yesterday.

    Hard luck Wales, it could so easily have been as Welsh victory yesterday, but England took their chances when they came, and need to retain this momentum next week!

  • Comment number 52.

    606 board is full of criticism of bbc camera coverage. BBC please take note.

  • Comment number 53.

    Good analysis FairweatherJohn.

    Croftalicious - agree about how deep Wilkinson was. Can't see Johnson giving him the nudge for Flood tho.

    All - assuming clean bills of health, what changes if any would you make to the two teams' line-ups for next week?

  • Comment number 54.

    great to see a blog where the author obviously reads contributions, and responds.

    couple of observations - bonus points would have made all 3 games more interesting in the second half. let's get 'em in. if you're worried about the remote prospect of a team achieving a grand slam but finishing second then make it six points for a win, three for a draw, and that removes this possibility...

    no-one has mentioned nigel owens' reffing - no coincidence that he had a great game and was blowing the whistle only when necessary. ensured a totally different game to yesterday when players were pinged for 'holding on' about 0.0005 seconds after hitting the ground...

    and finally what about the awful continual use of aerial camera shots at twickenham. dreadful, marred my ability to appreciate the game. is this a case of the majority, who don't have 3-d, suffering for the small number who do? at least can we please have a 'normal camera angles' setting option on the red button?

  • Comment number 55.

    I think it is fair to say England were good value for the victory. England had ill discipline during last years tournament and the Welsh would hear nothing of it, and although yes we certainly took the initiative with the extra man, i still believe we would have won. Those 10 minutes would of have been played completely differently by both sides otherwise and we cannot be certain what would of happened. England were the better side throughout the 1st half and first 15 minutes of the second half. This game is about taking your chances, and from what I've seen so far, England looked far better at doing that. The mentality of the welsh needs to change, they think about beating ENGLAND instead of beating the side they are playing. Wales played the occasion, England played the game. I thought the decision to start Tom James was a bit of a strange one and people can talk about Wales being injury hit all day long, England were hardly at full strength.

    From what i have seen, England looked a much improved side. I do not think we will win the grand slam, but i do not believe a grand slam will be won by anyone this year, and on that basis Wales are still in this competition.

    They need to start playing the game, and not the occasion.

    The extra penalties and the extra man certainly helped, but if we think back to Wales victory last year, i believe we were saying the same thing then.

  • Comment number 56.

    At 32 DL
    Im wondering if your comments were written just to get a reaction in which case I'm probably playing into your hand here but fair play you are a verb which I am unable to write as this post would get moderated.
    Your concete and lack of knowledge are frankly staggering. Your comments concerning the other home nations are completely uncalled for and insulting and I would hope an embarresment to your fellow Englishmen who for the most part have taken their victory in good grace and with the pragmatism that the performance warranted. England deserved their win because they scored more points than Wales....thats how it works. I can come up with every excuse imaginable to suggest that Wales should have and could have won...and they would be a fair argument, but, a yellow card is still part of the game and therefore the what ifs are irelevant.
    (I assume your suggesting that everytime England lose in the 6N its a fluke)
    I can imagine you being very short in stature requiring the use of a ladder to get up on your high horse. Perhaps this 'short man syndrome' clouds your judgement but you are right to some degree in suggesting that England should be winning all their games in the 6N....Why? because you have twice as many players to select from as all the other home nations put together (fact).......so whilst your watching the highlights today wrapped in your little blanket of smugness, remember this - Everytime England dont win the 6N, they have under-achieved. If you can shake off your little blanket long enough to check out the stats, you will find that this under-achievment is habitual and us insignifant appendages to the United Kingdom of England have, in the main, fought above our weight and succeeded in doing so.
    To the other English 'posters' on here - I congratulate you, you scored more points than us so deserved to win - Heres to 2011.

  • Comment number 57.

    ExileGwilym does it really matter? It makes sense to differentiate between the many Jones's Wales have. The fact you felt the need to comment on it gives the impression to me that your looking for attention and looking for something, anything, to complain about. Stop being such bore. You sound bitter and childish.

  • Comment number 58.

    Tom - Both front rows I reckon are going to have to hope that their regulars come back...

    England - Im undecided about Tim Payne at test level, even for Wasps lately he's been nervous, look at what Cole did to him for Tigers! He got bullied by Jones yesterday. As stated, I would like to see Flood given a go at 10, I do agree with you however that it is very unlikely that Wilko's going to be dropped, and I can see Flutey coming straight back in at 12, if his dead-leg recovers. Also! I would like to see Foden actually used...England's only unused substitute yesterday, surely against Italy is an ideal oppurtunity to give him some game time?

    Wales - Lions front rowers back, Cooper dropped for whoever puts their hand up highest! (yes i know Phillips is a giant for a SH), Halfpenny to start ahead of James and remove, for good, all and ever, Andy Powell from international rugby...How did he ever get selected for a Lions tour? Yesterdays involvement including the usual running up blind allys, failing to offload and knocking on...Jones will start at 8, therefor there is absolutely no place for Powell in the Welsh starting 15, there have to be actually blindsides so much better than Powell available! I also reckon that there's a slight chance that Alun Wyn may be dropped...

  • Comment number 59.

    A coupeof comment son the players and on the BBC America Commentary and follow up talk.

    On the players we do need some more flair and pace but not at the risk of losing Wilkinson -always underated on his play other than kicking. I have wondered a few times re having Jonny at full back or inside center (it worked well for England in 2000-2006 -having two guys to choose from who could kick for position to allow new "flair" at 10 . However I do not think Cipriato is the one even at his best.

    Secondly I detect in the BBC Sports page in general and the match team a "brush off " to those players now in Fracne and elsewhere which shows their lack of a global view of the game -and a dis-service to players like Wilkinson. He was not mentioned once after the game despite his significant "quiet" contribution .

    Wilkinson as an example has shown great patience in getting back to form - he still kicks well ,passes well ,tackles well and acts more like a loose forward at times.He kicked well again Sat and had two hands in the best try . The one weakness is perhaps 0-10 yd pace one would like to see to make that break -the one skill the Welsh have had more of historically.

    The BBC should have more info on the Game in France / South Africa / Aussie / NZ to understand where that game is going and to keep an eye on our own expat players -not excomunicate them . We should not appear to disown them in the press as now it appears to me by just ignoring their existance

  • Comment number 60.

    PS

    forgot to say thought Steve Borthwick really played well

  • Comment number 61.

    This game perfectly demonstrated how the little things can make a massive difference in top level sport. Obviously AWJ was absolutely daft, and rightly punished, but had the ref seen Shaw impede Williams (which made the space for Care's try) or realised that James hadn't knocked-on when it came off his chest, things would have been very different. Still, that's sport and that's why we love it. Great game to watch despite (or perhaps because of) nervousness and mistakes from both teams. And got to say, even though we lost it was weirdly good to see the improvement in England's game. Having a mediocre England over past few seasons just hasn't seemed right somehow - although I do hope we get a slice of their luck next week :-)

  • Comment number 62.

    For a start the Alan Wynn Jones sending off- very uncharacteristic of a a fine player- was not just a moment of stupidity but the kind of thing that is likely to happen when sides are put under such extreme pressure. England battered Wales for much of the first half.. Last week I commented that I thought that Charteris was not the kind of "beast" that Wales needed in the second row to partner Jones. But as the senoir lock and a British Lion an additional responsibility devolved upon him. Gatland said in his post-match analysis that people need to trust their team mates; and that trip indicated that A.W. Jones, effectively out of the match at that moment, did not have faith in the rest of the team.

    Moreover Alain Roland, who is not my favourite referee, had warned at least the Welsh captain about a trailing leg earlier in the came when he had brought down Jonny Wilkinson.. And it was surely obvious to all watching on TV that the penalty that was awarded against Steve Borthwick in the build up to the Adam Jones try, was a clear refereeing error. He had caughte Gareth Cooper quite legally, and the tide of the game should have turned towards England.

    As another post has pointed out, however, Wales only got on the front foot because Armitage threw out a pass possibly intended for Simon Shaw,who had over-run him. This was a key turning point that allowed Wales to change the momentum of the game.. And in fact, though it was initially great to see Armitage back in an England shirt, one could see why fans of London Irish had warned that he is not back to his form of last season. There were signs of rustiness and his skill level was not as dependabale as one might have hoped as the second half progressed.

    He owed England that interception. And with a first game under his belt he should only get better.. Much the same could have been said about Wilkinson in the Autumn, and there were signs of a real JW revival.

    Overall England could take many positives and the way that players combined to score the last try bodes well.. Armitage, Flood, Tait, and Haskell are all players for the future and they were all able to think on their feet and execute at speed... With Flutey due to come back at some stage as the pivotal play-maker things should only get better. And the England back row looked the best balanced that we have had for some time.

    Going to Italy, however, will force England to look seriously at the prop situation. For me Hartley had his best match so far, but Thompson and Cole really changed the situation in the set scrum..

  • Comment number 63.

    pps

    The "distribution problem mentioned is at scrum half actually - not no 10 -watch the first half !! A scrum half should be able to pass more than 5 meters and give no 10 more room - also the long pass to insid centre behind no 10 is very powerful and used often by the southern hemi -sphere teams !! We can still learn a lot from them

  • Comment number 64.

    As always I am amazed at how small the margins are between victory and defeat in sport at the highest level. I thought both teams were patchy yesterday and both can perform too a much higher level and reduce the error count which was really where most of the points came from for both teams. The greatest thing on display was the fear of defeat that haunts teams on the back of previous poor performances and a run of victories can soon change the way teams perform.

  • Comment number 65.

    Game lost not game won. Injuries in days before hand didnt help either side and as everyone else has mentioned, AW Jones' horrific, needless, cynical trip was the turning point. Evenly balanced, be it nervously so, with ball in hand wales looked much more threatening. England had rarely broken the 22. Being in the stands yesterday, me and the few welshman around me were optimistic of a strong second half performance judging the play thus far, except the faultering lineout. Rees to comeback will make a huge difference, any shouts for the consistent youngster ken owens?? Jenkins, probably the worlds best loosehead, combined with the solid yet slightly unfit Adam jones, would have destroyed the english front row. AW jones to be droppped to learn a lesson as well as the largely anonymous Charteris, bring in the ageing but reliable ian gough and i think a gamble with ian evans, a real wrecking ball when fit. Backrow unbalanced, williams and jones solid and largely faultless, buit how powell even in the squad. Another terrible performance fraut with errors to add to the long list. Drop immediately and bring in for me warburton. A good youngster who needs a chance to be blooded into the team before williams retires, little more otherwise. Scrumhalf, desperately need phillips and peel back. Cooper was lively but too slow at the breakdown, roberts or rees should be given a chance on club merit. The 10 12 13 worked well when given a chance with quick ball and with the flyhalf flat, but a poor setpiece didnt give them enough of chance. The wingers were generally not in the game. Williams was rarely given the ball, chasing down poor long kicks straight down cuetos throat. James, not yet international standard. Too nervous under kicks and needs to practise clearances but electricly fast. Was the only one to stand when he dropped Hooks pop 4m out...Finally, lee byrne. Coming into the side after an unneccessary appeal earlier in the week and looked lacking game time. Shaky under the high ball but had the typically slide rule kickng game.

    On the balance of play, wales deserved the win and they know it. I hope they can react to this and show true class against scotland next week, taking the opportunities presented, not fluffing them. A solid setpiece and a returning halfpenny will provide a good platform for some welsh flair to come out. England however won this on mistakes. Yes they trundled through the phases retaining the ball, but with the ball rarely being passed from Jonny's hands, they will struggle. Against teams who can exploit poor kicks intelligently, looking for space behind or shifting the ball wide will prevail for quick thinkers france and ireland. And big players that can hold the ball up and release offloads in the centre will be vital. James hook, more creative than powerful, breezed past tait with consumate ease more than once. In this years championship, long term injuries to key forwards means they need to adjust and sure up the scrum. But to progress, more creativity outside the flyhalf channel is needed.

    To be fair, i congratulate england for taking the few chances given to them, albeit mainly from one welsh players act of idiocy and from an interception of one of a few stray passes in the welsh backline coming from trying to up the tempo. Warren gatland needs to now drum in the fact that tries do not come straight away in test rugby. They need more patience and control at the breakdown, if so, they can be as good as anyone in the world.

  • Comment number 66.

    One point that has been missed, or at least not commented on in any of the previous posts, relates to the build up to the 1st Welsh try scored by Adam Jones. The Welsh had been awarded a penalty, and chose to take the scrum near the posts. There was,of course, the drive off the back of the scrum towards England's line.

    When this drive was halted and turned into a ruck, the Welsh scrum half was poised over the ball and looking for options. When he picked the ball up, Steve Borthwick, who had been stood to the side of the ruck, and behind the rear feet, dived over the outstretched legs of a Welsh player in the ruck and tackled Cooper. The referee immediately blew for another penalty, which was again taken as a scrum and, after a couple of phases of play, Adam Jones dived over.

    IMHO, the award of that second penalty was wrong! The ball was clearly out of the ruck, and Borthwick had not been part of it. He came from behind the rear-most feet and made a legitimate tackle on Cooper. Had the tackle stood and play been allowed to continue, who knows what would have happened. This I might add, was also the opinion of both commentators, one of which was Welsh !

    One last point, anyone who thinks that Wales were in the ascendancy when AWJ tripped Dylan Hartley was not watching the same game as me. Admittedly it had been a long time coming, but once Wales deservedly got back on equal terms at 3-3, England seemed to move up a gear and were really motoring and threatening when the trip occurred. That was the reason AWJ did what he did !!

  • Comment number 67.

    Sorry, just seen CASSEROLEON's comment at 62 when the page refreshed after my post. Seems it didn't go un-noticed !

    Mind you, it also meens I've just caught JLLEWELLYNE1's post at 65 and he's obviously one of those welshmen who was watching a different game if he thinks "On the balance of play, wales deserved the win and they know it"!

    I suppose you and your pals in the crowd had too much beer if you were "optimistic of a strong second half performance judging the play thus far" !!

    Let's hope you can do England a favour when the French rock up in Cardiff later on in the championship !

  • Comment number 68.

    A great result for England but one that I feel served to prove what we all suspected following the Autumn internationals. England have some excellent players and the making of a 1st XV that could compete with any other, but the second string players and back ups that we currently have playing due to injuries are not nearly the class that we need them to be.

    Tim Payne is a fine example of this, he is a solid Premiership performer but is just not international class. Many Welsh fans have commented that if Jenkins and Rees had been fit then they would have destroyed the England front row, this very well may be true but to claim that would be the same result if England themselves had their own first choice props, of Vickery and Sheridan, would be very deluded.

    Wales flaws were clear to see, the line out failed but Rees will resolve this issue. Cooper is not nearly of the quality to provide consistant quality ball for the rugby that Wales want to play and they will need to hope that Peel can capture some of his past glory and James had deserved his shot on the wing but failed to live up to his promise. In the long term I fail to see the point of Stephen Jones to continue at No. 10 if Hook is the first choice goal kicker.

    England need Flutey back as Flood has the ability but as a fly half and not a make shift inside centre. Englands front row will continue to be exposed until the likes of Vickery, Sheridan and White return but in the mean time I would like to see Cole get a start from the off. Harry Ellis on form is always going to be a better player than Care and I think England are more capable of player great rugby if Croft was involved but its nice to see Care and Haskell step up and make their best performances for England to date.

    I predict wins and improved performances from both teams next week but cannot yet see either finsihing ahead of the established Ireland or France.

  • Comment number 69.

    Can anyone clear up a point for me, when haskell scored his first try he picked up from the RHS fringe of the ruck and knocked moody over going for the line. ( moody fell into the path of covering ryan jones)
    should'nt this accidentlal offside?

  • Comment number 70.

    Enough of "Wales would have won but for the AWJ sinbinning" - we will never know!

    We do know that England were ruthless when they had the numerical advantage and deserve a lot of credit for that. There was a moment of complacency shortly after the Care try which allowed Wales back when they were still creaking. And lets be honest, England were creaking with five minutes to go. It concerns me that England nearly threw away a game that should have been dead and buried, but Wales deserve some credit for the comeback, particularly Hook who will ask any 6N defence some serious questions on that form.

    England had more idea than in the Autumn and the return of Flutey should further improve the midfield attacking options. On the negative side, for me England still don't consistently recycle the ball quick enough, and this is compounded by Care's habit of standing up and taking a step before passing to JW. There are a lot of posts about JW standing too deep - not entirely fair - he has to have quick ball if he's going to play a flat game. Care will cause problems with his explosive speed off the base of the scrum and attract opposition back row which should create space for others, but first and foremost he needs to provide a rapid service to the talent outside.


  • Comment number 71.

    Pieman (57) does it matter that Tom got AWJ's name wrong? No, not enormously, it's a common enough mistake to make. Does it matter that a sports journalist from the UK's premier news organisation doesn't seem to know the difference between bad grammar and getting the basic facts wrong, yes I think it does. How to differentiate one Jones from the other? They all have relatively short given names, so even to type Alun Wyn Jones in full is no more finger work than Steve Borthwick or Johnny Wilkinson, which plenty here seem capable of. Bitter? You'll note I concede we made none of our own luck. Perhaps you believe this discussion is purely for those who wants to bask in the reflected glory of an adequate England performance?

  • Comment number 72.

    Re 71 ExileGwilym.

    Practice what you preach,it`s Jonny not Johnny Wilkinson.

  • Comment number 73.

    Despite dominating for almost 30 minutes of the first half England managed to score a total of 3 points, during the same period Wales were awarded 3 penalties all of which resulted in long range kicks at the posts with only one successful conversion would Wales have gone for the corners and the subsequent lineouts if their lineout had been functioning?
    Step up and stick your leg out AWY (for which if Gatland has the guts should drop you for the rest of the 6 nations as your kind of behaviour should have no place in Welsh rugby) 10 points conceded last 5 minutes of 1st half 7 points conceded in the first 5 minutes of 2nd half.
    Wales back to full strength and starting to dominate the game 14 points scored in approximately 10 minutes and England on the rack a repeat of 2008 on the cards!
    Interception try, conversion followed by a penalty, game over England 30 v Wales 17 and well done England.
    Somehow I don't think France, South Africa, New Zealand or Australia will be losing much sleep at facing either England or Wales on yesterdays performance by two very average teams thou I will give England an outside chance against Ireland in Twickenham on February 27th.

  • Comment number 74.

    Dear all,

    A lot of 'what ifs' flying around on this board.

    Indiscipline is tough to swallow. It feels like Alun Wyn Jones cost Wales the match - perhaps he did, but we can never know. England were in a similar position (as repeatedly pointed out) as they saw ill-discipline affect their 2008 campaign.

    The step from ill-discipline to 'Wales losing rather than England winning' is illogical. England played, and beat, the team in front of them. Had Wales fought back and claimed victory, it would've been deserved and worthy of admiration as opposed to a catastrophic collapse from a team thoroughly in control at 20-3.

    Talk of injuries and missing front rows in Wales' team are also beyond irrelevant, especially given the powerhouse front-row forwards missing from the England team. More relevant is the absence of Jamie Roberts, the Lions star and muscle-clad machine who was lined up against the risky and puny England centres.

    What if Flutey had been playing? England would've smashed Wales by 50 points. See, speculation is easy. England won and managed to scored 3 tries (against the most successful Grand Slam team of the last 5 years - ending a 3-match run of Welsh victory over England). It was clumsy and unneccesarily difficult, but so was Ireland's performance against Italy. And woe betide anyone that writes off a team after the first game - unless they lost, like Wales. Well they didn't lose, England won.

  • Comment number 75.

    Although, like much of Wales, I am annoyed with Alun, everybody must consider that this guy has been relied on by Wales for the last three seasons. He is still only 23 or 24 years of age yet nobody in his career has ever creditted his youth. I Knew him as a youth player and he has always given his best.

  • Comment number 76.

    The "Wyn Jones" thing is a bit embarrassing for the beeb though.
    It's a bit like talking about the England number 10 "Peter Wilkinson"

    (His name is actually Jonathan Peter Wilkinson)

    ... and to number 72., the actual spelling of "Jonny" (or Johnny) really isn't relevant as his name is actually "Jonathan".

  • Comment number 77.

    Depressingly, I feel Wales can possibly take more out of the match than england can:

    1. No matter what gloss you put on it, England scored most of their points against 14 men and were pretty comprehensively outplayed when it was 15 vs 15 (the interception try was unfortunate for Wales but surely a symptom of chasing a game rather than any deeper malaise)

    2. England's second try probably shouldn't have stood (much as it pains me to say it) if Rolland had been watching the breakdown before Care's break, due to Shaw's off the ball action against Gareth Williams. Credit to Shaw for getting away with it, but England can't rely on tactics like that to beat Ireland and France.

    3. Wales have two front-rowers to come back into the starting lineup, to form the front row that demolished the boks in the summer, England unfortunately at the moment have no such luxury. Personally I thought England were lucky not to concede more at scrum time, it appeared to me as though Wilson was usually the one underneath after it had collapsed, and not Paul James. the lineout should also improve exponentially for wales...(although the english lineout was very, very good!)

    Added up, England have a good opportunity to build on the win against Italy next week, but will need a LOT more to beat Ireland and France, whereas Wales have Scotland at home with players to come back and smarting from a game they could well have won. Re an earlier post; England probably played close to their maximum capability on saturday, wales didnt, and have more to offer, closer to what they showed during the (eventually failed) fightback of 14 points. For Wales, the set-pieces can only improve (and probably will a lot) and players like Byrne and Adam Jones only just back from injury will be more match-sharp. England have few options if any major players are lost to injury, and few options, if any, to improve the structure of the current team at the moment.

    Roll on round 2!

  • Comment number 78.

    Re Post 77:
    "Wales have two front-rowers to come back into the starting lineup, to form the front row that demolished the boks in the summer, England unfortunately at the moment have no such luxury".

    Sorry, but didn't Sheridan and Vickery also travel to South Africa last summer? Unless, of course, you're referring to the fact that England won't see their first choice props this 6N!

    Also, if you think that the Care try should have been disallowed, what about the Adam Jones try, for the reasons mentioned above. As we all know, there are myriad occasions in a game when a slight nudge, pull or obstruction go unnoticed. As I recollect, no-one even mentioned the Shaw/Williams incident until the BBC's video analyst brought it up some 10 minutes later !

    Yes, England did manage to score 17 unanswered points when Wales were down to 14 men, but ask yourself this...how many points did Wales put on England last year when they were down to 14 men for 20mins in the game at Cardiff? Leigh Halfpenny's try came during one of the periods, but I can't remember any more !!

    Finally, yes Wales should improve when they get their missing stars back but, hopefully, so will England for the same reason. This win will have done a lot for their confidence and, should they prevail in Rome, the Ireland game on the 27th becomes massive. Glad I've got a ticket for that one

  • Comment number 79.

    The really good thing is that England came away with a victory despite the fact that their backline was severely disrupted when Flutey was injured late in their preparations. Toby Flood is not an international inside centre, despite this the much vaunted Welsh backline simply did not appear on Saturday, despite a lightweight England midfield, did they miss the team bus?

    If England can build on this victory in Rome, confidence may at last start to unleash their shackles, they will have nothing to lose against the Irish?

  • Comment number 80.

    what do people expect from an emerging England team. Again hampered by the loss of the prop forwards not to mention Flutey who would have made a massive difference as Flood gave away penalties regularly. They made the best of the situation when scoring the 17 points when Wales were down to 14. There would have been a time that wouldn't have happened. The line outs were the main difference between the two teams with England coming out on top. |Apart from that England in the first half wrecked the scrums at will. Yes I know we never gained much ground but at least it stopped them from getting into the game. In fact they were never in it until the second half when England switched off and decided to stop playing yet again. As an England supporter I find it frustrating when we don't select the best players available from the premiership and even more frustrating when the Leicester club provide the lions share. How can you select players who are not even playing regularly for there club? England needs Clive Woodward and Shaun Edwards back into the fold to progress. I for one am fed up with winning by frantic schoolboy type rugby. Changes are needed for the future but we can still win the six nations not the slam but the competition overall.

  • Comment number 81.

    George Smith (72) - OK, yes, you have picked me up on spelling the name of the England #10 incorrectly. However, in attacking me over practising what I preach, you have missed my point, possibly deliberately, in order to make yours. My point is that a professional journalist like Tom should know the difference between a grammatical error (e.g confusing "practice", the noun, "practise", the verb) with a factual one (e.g the names of the players on the pitch, or the final score etc.) and, being the only person on here who can go back and edit his content, should have thanked the original poster for the correction and gone back and done so rather than brushing it off. In accepting that I have made an error, rather than claiming the 'h' got missed by some technical flaw when uploading my post, I am practising what I preach. Interestingly, the link from the Rugby front page to this article has changed from 'Wyn Jones...' to '"Wince" Jones...' overnight, so somebody at the BBC evidently believes it's important enough to spend a minute or two fixing.

    To all of you complaining about the "what ifs" being brought up, let it pass... that's half what makes these discussions interesting... it would be pretty dull if we had 80-odd posts simply recounting what happened in a game we all saw and can, I assume, watch again on iPlayer if we so desire. The main thrust of the original article is that AWJ's trip & sin-binning was a significant turning point in the game, which implies the final result might possibly have been different had that not happened, so it's perfectly legitimate for poeple to respond with what they see as other significant turning points. England would certainly have been more threatening with Flutey playing, in my opinion, or with their first choice front row, so it's a worthy talking point in advance of the rest of the tournament. Wales, on the other hand, may not have had to chase the game so much in the last 10 min had Jones taken the early kicks (or had Halfpenny been playing, or had Henson not hurt his foot ages ago, or had Paul Thorburn found the secret of eternal youth back in the 80's...) or had Davies and Rees started at 2 & 9 in place of Williams & Cooper... or maybe they would have gone backwards in the scrum and been even more out-played by Care (who I thought had an excellent game - a long time since Eng's 9 was so notably a class above his Welsh counterpart).. it's the speculation that makes the banter worthwhile, surely? Otherwise, we would have to just trade statistics. That Wales conceded fewer penalties than England is largely irrelevant in the face of the one that matters - 30 points to 17 - which we all knew before the article was written in the first place.

  • Comment number 82.

    Re Spider Cam:

    Watch out BBC. It's a slippery slope that starts with Spider cam and ends up with shots of a really bad artist painting pictures of the game from the sideline. Just ask the French networks.

  • Comment number 83.

    77. At 02:24am on 08 Feb 2010, exonrugby89 wrote:

    3. Wales have two front-rowers to come back into the starting lineup, to form the front row that demolished the boks in the summer, England unfortunately at the moment have no such luxury.

    --------

    What? Do you actually watch rugby? **cough** Sheridan, Vickery and White.

    Oh, and here's a few more names you might want to think about - Croft, Flutey, Tindall, Worsley and Lawes.

    We can all blame injuries for defeats, but it seems to me England have been harder hit than anyone this year and yet Martin Johnson doesn't appear to be using it as an excuse.

  • Comment number 84.

    It always seems the same when England beat Wales that the typical response from the Welsh is that they were wronged in some way and that if the team played properly and didn't give penalties, sin bins etc, they would have won.

    The reality is that Wales lost the game and did so through lack of discipline and inability to convert pressure into points. If they play with the same lack of cohesion at half back and in the lineout, Scotland will come away from Cardiff with an unlikely win.

  • Comment number 85.

    Forgive me if i'm wrong but didn't Martyn Williams trip a player during the 2008 season against Ireland? We went onto win that match but it smacks slightly of 1 rule for 1 person and another rule another. Surely the intent was there from both parties. Any thoughts?

  • Comment number 86.

    England v Wales. Always the same - Wales cannot lose except by acts of God; and England cannot win except by luck.

    Have Wales forgotten that last year the truly evil English got their just deserts by getting two Yellow cards! One wholly wrong. And Wales escaped a yellow card! And England lost by less.

    Ah well.

  • Comment number 87.

    I can't say I watch rugby week in week out but I have watched the six nations, lions tours and world cups religiously since I was old enough to recognise a great sport.

    Having watched most of this weekends action I thought I would add my 2 pence.

    On England. We did a job, it wasn't great but we showed something we have lacked in recent years. Not long ago, had we intercepted a pass we would have run down a blind ally or thrown it away before reaching the line. on Saturday we stole the ball, made space for ourself and got it over the line. The rest of the game was ok, it wasn't spectacular but what were we expecting after our resent performances. Lets play some more games and see where we are at the end of it and then judge whether JW kicks to much away, SB can't lead or DA is all hype and no end product.

    As for the other teams over the weekend, France who by all the reports I have seen where spectacular, though having watched it I think I missed something. They took two try's well early on, but in the second half managed 3 points. If Scotland had some more composure they may have got one as well but some mistakes when close to the line cost them. I didn't see anything to fear in them and think Ireland, Wales and England could beat them.

  • Comment number 88.

    Nice to see someone picking up a BBC journo on this imaginary "Wyn Jones" character they've invented. (Owsyerip at comment 13)

    Mr. Fordyce, pay attention and spread the word to your colleagues!

    Saturday's game was a terrible advert for rugby. Two appalling teams struggling for an inch of ascendancy. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be the fifth place play-off.

    Welsh errors and a big helping hand from Mr. Rolland ensured the final result went England's way. Neither team shoiuld get over excited or look forward to a succesful competition without making vast improvements.

  • Comment number 89.

    It is strange that England's win is attributed to Jones' stupidity and the failure of the Welsh lineout! Is it not conceivable that during the passage of play prior to Mr Jones' misdemeanor, that Wales were under pressure which lead to his trip, had Wales been camped on England's it wouldn't have happened would it?

    As for the lineout, well England were better and on balance throughout the game showed more drive and tenacity if not composure and steel!

    Wales had moments of excellence but on balance it was the right result. lets face it, England finished 2nd in the table last year and spent almost the entire championship with 14 men on the field, are the Welsh suggesting that England would have won the Grand Slam had their discipline not been so dreadful? I have to say I doubt they are although it's sad to say that it could well have been, and would have been a travesty for Northern Hemisphere rugby.

    If Wales had scored the breakaway try it would simply have been justice, but for England it was get out of jail free card. England must simply enjoy their victory, identify their weakness's and move forward in a positive and productive way learning from the experience.

  • Comment number 90.

    Somewhere way up top, Tom asked suggestions for changes for next week...

    Think it's pretty clear Jenkins & Rees will come into the front row if fit. If Rees still crocked, Davies & Williams to swap start/bench hooking spots.
    Keep AWJ. Yes, he made a mistake with big consequences on Sat but that's about the first thing I can remember he's done wrong in a Wales shirt and I imagine a dressing down from Shaun Edwards (plus all the media/fan flak) will be enough to alert him to the error of his ways. Martyn Williams, Gareth Thomas, Mike Phillips and Ryan Jones have all done similarly dull things to get carded in the past but their overall quality as players, like AWJ, makes/made them worth sticking with.
    I'd like to see Jonathan Thomas start, probably in place of Powell, who seems to get turned over in contact more often than an abrasive ball carrying player should. Warburton should also get some game time somehow, esp with RWC2011 approaching - Martyn Williams is a superb player but surely can't play 80min of every international for the next 2 years & we have no credible back up plan if he gets a knock.
    If either 1st choice 9 (DP/MP) were fit he would play, with Rees on the bench. If the choice is Cooper/Rees/Roberts, Rees should start, perhaps even dropping Cooper altogether with Shane as backup if we need a wise older head to steady the ship.
    Jones stays for me at 10. Don't understand why he gets the criticism he does, to be honest - he virtually always makes the right choices and his running game isn't as pedestrian as is sometimes made out.
    Hook and Roberts at centre has the look of an exciting, balanced pairing for a good while to come.
    Williams and Byrne are probably automatic choices for most people... I'd also stick with James to start - sure he makes a few mistakes but his pace is phenomenal and he needs a share of the available game time to progress - Shane is another who won't last forever.

  • Comment number 91.

    It was a scrappy, exciting game-Alun Jones will now be the loneliest man in Wales (quite rightly). Now for the rant-Could we please get rid of the flashy, gimmicky camera angles and endless replays-we missed some of the action,particularly at restarts, the camera lost sight of the ball and for the life of me I couldn't see what this camera/these cameras added to the whole experience. The game is complex enough without the producer making me feel slightly seasick and even more irritable than usual

  • Comment number 92.

    ps having watched the Scotland game without these new cameras i feel even more strongly about them-get rid!!

  • Comment number 93.

    England should take great heart from this victory. With or without the yellow card, they outplayed Wales in all areas, apart from the scrum (which cost them nothing). Lineout and backrow were superior and Wales were always struggling for decent possession which inevitably led to frustration. Wales came back briefly with a fine individual try but England took control again and ran out comfortable winners. After the dismal last twelve months it must give cause for optimism. Maybe only two/three players short of being a force again. Forget about expansive rugby just dominate and win.

  • Comment number 94.

    It is strange though how I often feel I have seen a different game to the commentaries I have heard or read! Danny Care has had some pretty good reviews and I think he did have a better game than his Welsh counterpart, however his passing leaves a lot to be desired. He's sharp round the fringes and dangerous in lose play but he winds up for the pass and then only hits it spot on 5 times out of 10.

    If JW is going to get any criticism for playing too deep and not letting his back line flourish maybe lack of quick ball from the breakdown followed by a laboured service from the base of the scrum should be highlighted as limiting his options.

  • Comment number 95.

    I was wondering if anybody else thought that the camera work on the England Wales game was not upto the usual standard, many times the pictures on display were not following the play, but were showing dead areas or stills of mascots etc, watching from home, many a family comment was shouted frustratedly at the telly to catch up with play...almost as if the BBC at Twickenham had forgotten the art of Camera direction...

  • Comment number 96.

    There are plenty of cameras covering every square cm of the turf and it's more down to the calls made in the production suite as to what we see and what we don't.

    It has been getting worse year after year and then they introduce spydercam with its distorting fish eye lense, I do hope they sort that out, it was worse than dreadful!

    Maybe I am remembering things with rose tinted spectacles but I think that in the 70's they must have producers and directors not to mention cameramen dedicated to sports with far less technology doing a far better job. I don't remember ever shouting at the TV screen to try and get back to the action, or maybe actually follow the passage of play!

    In reality things have never been the same since Bill McLaren hung up his muddy boots, God rest his soul, we were all far richer for having had the experience of his wit and wisdom.

    I am told that during the war it London was a far better place to live than it is now. Not sure about that one but Nostalgia eh!

  • Comment number 97.

    'As an England supporter I find it frustrating when we don't select the best players available from the premiership and even more frustrating when the Leicester club provide the lions share. How can you select players who are not even playing regularly for there club? England needs Clive Woodward and Shaun Edwards back into the fold to progress. I for one am fed up with winning by frantic schoolboy type rugby. Changes are needed for the future but we can still win the six nations not the slam but the competition overall.'

    What a bizarre comment! Which of Leicester's players are you talking about? Our first choice openside? Our first choice lock? Our first choice outside half and regular inside centre? Maybe our first choice outside centre? Or our young upcoming and frequent starting tight-head? Just because you don't like Flood and Leicester you could still try to think before you post!

  • Comment number 98.

    England capitalised on a mistake. In the same way that other teams have done. You never see the ABs going home saying that they won, but the other team had a man booked. I reckon England deserve credit, and the booking shows how important discipline is in international rugby. Yes, it might have been close otherwise, but the score actually reflected what happened.
    Not sure we saw enough to suggest that England can win, but I don't think that any of the teams showed anymore than England did. What worries me the most is that there were a lot of passes missing their targets, dropped balls and inaccurate kicking... think all teams need to have a serious word with themselves.

  • Comment number 99.

    couldn't agree more "old_one_eye"

  • Comment number 100.

    To jllewellyne1, Hook did not 'breeze past Tait', in the run when he scored. Tait drifted wide to cover the wing and Hook went round Thompson. So, Wales were lucky he wasn't up against someone quicker, or they might not have scored.

    There have been many ifs and buts for England supporters in recent times, however they don't change the outcome of the game.

    England were not on world beating form, but you can only beat what is front of you, and they did.

    You make your own luck.

 

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