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Anyone else thoroughly enjoy that match, even though we lost?

Going 33-5 down was off-setted slightly by the brilliance of the Barbarians back play, but there were some sharp positives after coming back into it.

Everytime I see Payne, Deacon and Noon, my belief that these players are just average strengthens. Those are 3 I would lose in a heartbeat.

Looking on to the first test, I would play:

1. Wilson
2. Thompson
3. White
4. Borthwick (C)
5. Kay
6. Robshaw
7. S.Armitage
8. Easter
9. Hodgson
10. Goode
11. Banahan
12. Turner-Hall
13. Hipkiss
14. Cueto
15. D.Armitage

16. Hartley
17. Wood
18. Kennedy
19. Haskell
20. Foden
21. May
22. Tait

Three ultra-versatile backs on the bench (unintentionally)!

Can White do a job at loose-head? Ideally I would have had Flatman 1, White 3, with Wilson on the bench. The presence of White and Thompson will help counter the strong Argie scrum. - credit to Slater582 for pointing out that Wilson can play 1.

I think Borthwick and Kennedy are too similar. I think Borthwick should be playing for his future now, and if he doesn't perform over the next two tests then he should drop out of being an auto-pick when the Lions come back and we should move forward.

I think Armitage looked lively when he came on. Still no spot for Haskell, because I think Robshaw and Easter both had good games.

Hodgson looked sharp when he came on, and with Care's injury I'd have no qualms putting him into the team. Foden covering 9 on the bench (unlucky to miss out on the team).

Goode had a decent game, but what struck me the most was he saw we weren't getting over the gain line, so he changed the game plan. He put a delicate little kick over for Turner-Hall, it worked, so he kept doing it and got us 21 points for it! May covering 10 on the bench.

Turner-Hall had a good game, and I think Hipkiss does everything Noon does well and then offers more, so he came in there for me. It was a tough pick between him and Tait, but I think Hipkiss has had a better season.

It was hard to leave a winger out, but Cueto is a great player and I think he should come back into the team. I can see the Goode/Banahan try coming off against most teams, so I would stick with Banahan (who is an absolute battering ram when he gets up to full pace). Armitage pretty much picks himself!

So that's my team and reasons why. Again, a great, thoroughly enjoyable game of rugby in my opinion!


Latest 10 comments

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posted May 31, 2009

Disappointing even though Johnson was experimenting. I can't believe Armitage isn't on the Lions tour. He's an outstanding talent. They really missed a trick there.

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posted May 31, 2009

I can't see MJ plaing JTH and Hipkiss together in a big test match.

JTH grew into the game yesterday but he struggled with his positioning play and got caught out a few times. I think he is one for the future and deserves some game time from the bench.

I think Hipkiss will play 12 next week with Tait at 13 (fitness permitting). Hipkiss has been on fire at 12 for leicester lately. I know some people will say play him at 13 but Tait is potentially the best 13 in Eng by far. The Hipkiss / Tait combination will be more solid positionally as well.

Armitage should stay at FB. Why on earth people are wanting to move him to 13 heaven only knows!

As for the pack, we need a lttle more passion and more dynamic play.

White has to come into the front row, and Kay into the second row. Robshaw deserves another game, therefore Rees or S. Armitage at 7 and for me Crane at 8.

1. Wood
2. Hartley
3. White
4. Borthwick
5. Kay
6. Robshaw
7. Rees / S. Armitage
8. Crane
9. Care
10. Goode (pnlt because there is no one else)
11. Cueto
12. Hipkiss
13. Tait
14. Strettle (if fit, otherwise Bannahan)
15. Armitage

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posted May 31, 2009

I was there and, I have to say, it was a thoroughly entertaining match. You definitely could tell that it was experimental as things didn't seem to come together as we would have hoped, but we still managed four tries against an ace baa-baas team.

Goode was woeful, he never appeared to be bossing anyone around like a good fly-half, and all the tries he created, though, I admit, he DID create them, came from kicks, not hands and running. His kicking both from hand and tee were dreadful too.

I thought Tom May played brilliantly when he came on and thoroughly deserved his try. He ran some good lines at 13 and put a clever little grubber kick through which very nearly payed off superbly if not for an awkward bounce and poor hands.

Jamie Noon I think surprised us all when he burst through in the first half, coming very close to scoring. I was sitting pretty much right on that corner and it was obvious that he was very unlucky, and only some excellent defending stopped him.

I'm delighted that all bar one of the debutants scored, Robshaw being the exception, but I thought he still played very well and helped set up the try for Ben Foden with a delightful inside pass, again on my corner.

A lot of positives to be taken from this match, in particular the newbies, Delon Armitage (broke through more than once, never dropped a catch and pulled off an incredible last ditch tackle on Schalk Brits) and Danny Care.

This match wasn't so much for winning by whatever means as for introducing some new blood to the international arena, and I thought England did that excellently.

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posted May 31, 2009

Loved the game yesterday. Sad to hear that Strettle is unwell but very glad that Banahan has been promoted to the EPS. It seems that Noon may be carrying a hamstring tweak (shame, that!) so hopefully won't be playing his ineffectual game next week.

The players who should start in my book are:

15. D Armitage (Superb and that try saving tackle on Brits was awesome!)
14. Cueto (back from injury thankfully)
13. Tait (if fit)
12. Hipkiss (on such good form)
11. Banahan (one of the few backs that actually looked hungry and was effective too. Glad he's now in the EPS)
10. Vesty (I think Goode is just awful)
9. Hodgson (looked sharp yesterday, and Care may be carrying an injury)

8. Easter (I want Crane, but don't think MJ will do that!)
7. S Armitage (our only really fit Openside other than Moody, who just wasn't as good as I thought he'd be!)
6. Robshaw (Best in his position - I'd even consider him over Croft)
5. Kay (has to be - there's nobody else really)
4. Borthwick (Although I'd prefer Kennedy)
3. White (best scrummager we've got!)
2. Hartley (Did nothing wrong - should start with Tommo is an impact Sub)
1. Payne (Not very effective but does the job)

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posted Jun 1, 2009

Can someone tell me please what Charlie Hodgson has done wrong this season except play really well for Sale? If MJ is not going to pick Cipriani out of sheer spite, then pick the next best 10, send Goode back to France to slip into obscurity please!!I know Hodgson can't tackle but look what a good tackler at 10 has done to Wilkinson.

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posted Jun 1, 2009

Hodgson isn't in the EPS and not even in the Saxons. That says to me his England career is over. He has never really performed in an England shirt. As a Lions Mid-week dirt-tracker most definately, but for England, no.

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posted Jun 1, 2009

I think you may be right unfortunately about Hodgson, but for him not to get into the Saxons! & the decision to send Cipriani to the Saxons makes no sense, obviously MJ is still holding a grudge. It is strange that he's on Geechs back up list for the Lions but can only get a game for the Saxons.

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posted Jun 1, 2009

As far as an exhibition match goes it was fantastic. Running rugby from both sides and some marvelous play, and the baa baa's played totally to the spirit of the team. just one extra comment....where the hell did Corry find that angle from? he's never run through like that in his career!! ;)

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posted Jun 2, 2009

I don't think its such a bad thing, Cipriani will be the England 10 of the future, of that there is little doubt. He has the talent, but at the moment he lacks the composure, and hasn't really been on the kind of form which took him to the England jersey to begin with. Wasn't he also meant to be getting the pins removed instead of touring?

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posted Jun 2, 2009

Thoroughly agree about Noon. Just how may games does Martin Johnson (or anyone else for that matter) need to see before realising that this is a player that is just not up to standard at International level?? I almost hate myself for saying this but, when Noon got injured after the 36-0 debacle against the Boks in RWC2007, our fortunes changed dramatically for the better.

And why the hell does he not pick Cipriani?! Two tests against a transitional Pumas side would have been the perfect opportunity to give him a free licence to show what he can do and rebuild his confidence. But instead he plays Goode who, unfortunately, is never going to be the sort of fly-half that is needed against the very best.

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