BBC BLOGS - Bryn Palmer

Archives for November 2010

Boks provide reality check for Johnson's England

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Bryn Palmer | 22:16 UK time, Saturday, 27 November 2010

Twickenham

"Well that wasn't in the script," bemoaned one England supporter as he contemplated a depressing end to an otherwise encouraging autumn series.

"It was like the England of 12 months ago," added Mr Grumpy of Twickenham, and he had a point.

In the lack of discipline and composure, the proliferation of handling errors and the muddled thinking under pressure, England's performance in their 21-11 defeat by South Africa turned back the clock to the darker days of Martin Johnson's managerial regime.

But Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Shontayne Hape, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole and Courtney Lawes hadn't even started a Test 12 months ago.

They are barely out of nappies in international terms, even if they have shown enough already to suggest they will be competing at the highest level for a good while yet.

This was their first exposure to the Springboks however, and it wasn't a pleasant experience.

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Springboks to put England revival to the test

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Bryn Palmer | 19:29 UK time, Thursday, 25 November 2010

Martin Johnson could not have been clearer.

Asked on Thursday to assess how far away his emerging England side are from reaching their full potential, with one eye on next year's World Cup, the beetle-browed one's response was emphatic: "In no way are we anywhere near the finished article."

It was a timely intervention, and appropriate given the rising tide of excitement around his red rose charges.

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England blaze a trail to light up Twickenham

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Bryn Palmer | 20:18 UK time, Saturday, 13 November 2010


Twickenham

Anything you're supposed to do, we can do better.

That might have been England's mantra on one of the great Twickenham days, a scintillating Test match to illuminate this autumn series.

Weren't the Wallabies the ones supposed to play with this devil-may-care attacking approach, with this fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants bravura?

England might have been showcasing their new 'away' strip of anthracite - a smokeless fuel - but they were lighting fires all over their home turf.

Beaming, bewildered supporters were streaming out of headquarters afterwards openly wondering whether they had just witnessed the best performance by the red rose brigade since, well, ever.

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Cooper the lead man in Aussie attacking cast

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Bryn Palmer | 15:40 UK time, Thursday, 11 November 2010

You know the old adage. Games are won and lost up front. The forwards decide which team comes out on top, the backs decide by how much.

But Australia, England's next opponents at Twickenham on Saturday, appear to be doing their utmost to disprove this hoary cliché.

Against Martin Johnson's tourists in June, they were battered up front in Perth and conceded two penalty tries yet still emerged victorious, would have got away with another pummelling in Sydney but for Matt Giteau's goalkicking, and performed another escape act to win in relative comfort against Wales last Saturday, despite their pack conceding seven penalties for scrummaging offences.

So how do the Wallabies fly in the face of received rugby wisdom? How can they get away with having a front row that seems to collapse at the first hint of opposition power, yet still win games?

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Can northern lights dim southern glow?

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Bryn Palmer | 09:47 UK time, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Building blocks. Waymarkers. Stepping stones on the journey. Call them what you will.

The autumn internationals that get under way on Saturday with a mouthwatering trio of matches do so with the spectre of a World Cup looming large.

The 2011 global gathering in New Zealand is only 10 months away, the clock is ticking, and now is the time for big statements if any of the home nations have serious pretensions to challenge the southern hemisphere's current dominance.

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