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Ashton leads way as England charge picks up pace

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Bryn Palmer | 19:20 UK time, Saturday, 12 February 2011


It was going to be tough, England players and coaches had assured us all week.

Never mind those turning up at Twickenham expecting the sort of try-fest that marked encounters between the countries in the first half-dozen years of the Six Nations.

Martin Johnson was unequivocal. Substance over style was the mantra. The number one priority was to win. Second? No serious injuries. Only then would he consider if it was a good game or not.

With a try on the board with barely two minutes on the clock and three more by half-time, the first objective was achieved by the interval. Only bumps and bruises were reported post-match.

Which left Johnson in unfamiliar territory after his effervescent troops profited royally from some hapless Italian defence and their own ambition to plunder eight tries in all, second only to the 10 they put past the Azzurri in a record 80-point thrashing in 2001.

"We are not used to having big leads," he reflected. "Hopefully it is a problem we can get used to."

With Chris Ashton around, he may have to.

Chris Ashton and Nick Easter

Ashton is the first England player to score four tries in a Five/Six Nations match since 1914 - photo: AFP

Austin Healey, Will Greenwood, Jason Robinson, Mark Cueto and Jamie Noon had all scored three tries for England in a Six Nations match, but Ashton became the first to claim four, and has already equalled the previous best total of six for an entire campaign shared by Greenwood and Welsh wizard Shane Williams.

The 23-year-old Wiganer also became the first Englishman to score four tries in the Championship since Ronnie Poulton against France in 1914. His quartet here brought his tally to nine in his first nine Tests. England, it is fair to say, have a bona-fide superstar on their hands.

"He is a predator, isn't he?" remarked Johnson. "He gets in the right places and scores tries. He runs very smart lines, popping up on the inside, and he has really invigorated our back three, Mark [Cueto] in particular. It was good he got a try as well - we can stop talking about that now."

Cueto started his international career with 15 tries in his first 28 Tests, but had gone try-less in his last 18 before Saturday. He looked like a man on a mission from the start and when he burst onto Toby Flood's superbly-timed inside pass after half an hour and smashed through Luciano Orquera's attempted tackle to finally end his drought, his elation was obvious.

Mobbed by exultant team-mates, who appreciate his contribution goes way beyond scoring tries, a grinning Cueto hurled the ball into the South Stand by way of celebration.

"He has been very upset by that," said Ashton. "Hopefully he will be a happier man now."

The grin has barely left Ashton's face all week either, and he has revelled in the superficial controversy generated by his 'swallow dive' celebration against Wales. He couldn't resist it again here, repeating it after his first and last tries.

"I knew he would do that one at the end," said Johnson, who joked that even though he had emptied his bench he was tempted to put Ashton's number up as a warning. "I said to him afterwards 'that was an interesting way to end your career'".

Lest anyone thought he might be serious, the manager added: "These guys are there to enjoy themselves a bit as well. They are allowed to have fun."

Once Flood, who enjoyed another outstanding game, had ended two minutes of Italian pressure with the first of several line breaks, the sight of Ashton on his inside shoulder ensured the outcome was never in doubt once the pass was delivered.

His second and third tries were those of a classic poacher, twisting out of Mirco Bergamasco's tackle after taking an offload from Shontayne Hape close to the line, and then capitalising on a Matt Banahan burst to pick up and dive over from a metre out.
His final effort again owed much to Banahan, who enjoyed a productive half-hour after replacing Cueto.

"I am just really desperate to scores tries," said Ashton afterwards, as if anyone doubted it. "I find myself doing anything to get a try."

Italy undoubtedly made England's job easier with some dismal one-on-one tackling - "I certainly didn't expect us to play that poorly," said a visibly angry coach Nick Mallett - and a woeful line-out that saw England pilfer five of their throws.

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Highlights - England 59-13 Italy

The hosts' own set-piece was again a tower of strength, with a 100% success rate on their 12 throws.

There were so few scrums that debutant prop Alex Corbisiero barely had the opportunity to show his mettle against Martin Castrogiovanni, who was emblematic of Italy's miserable afternoon, getting himself sin-binned for preventing a quick penalty being taken.

But the youngest front row England had ever fielded certainly enjoyed themselves in the loose, along with the rest of a team transformed and liberated.

As impressive as the first half was, it could have been twice as good. England scored four good tries, including one for captain Mike Tindall, but wasted four more opportunities after breaching the first line of Italian defence.

After eight minutes, Tindall was collared five metres short of the left corner, and the move broke down. At the end of the first quarter England lost patience in the Italian 22, and Nick Easter conceded a silly penalty. A minute later after another Flood break and a delightful Dan Cole dummy and dart up the left, the attack came a cropper when Bergamasco intercepted Easter's pass with an overlap beckoning on the right. Just before the break, Tindall burst through with Cueto up in support, but appeared to panic and run towards the winger before ramming a pass into his chest.

With the game won at half-time, the second period could easily have fallen flat, particularly when Johnson sent on five replacements inside the first 15 minutes, including the removal of Ben Youngs and Flood, their orchestrators in chief.

But the first of several rousing renditions of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" was the precursor to Ashton's second try, and Danny Care and James Haskell also helped themselves to easy scores against a demoralised defence before Ashton, appropriately, had the final say.

No-one was pretending the visit of France in a fortnight will follow anything like the same pattern, but for now England can bask in an Italian job very well done.

"Did we think we would get that many points?" reflected Johnson. "Probably not, but it was a pretty decent performance.

"Do we have to be better in two weeks? Yes, of course we do. We won't get the amount of opportunities to score tries we did today. We have to control the ball a bit better at times."

Two down, three to go. England's Grand Slam bandwagon is on a roll.


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  • Comment number 1.

    england will lose to france and ireland so no grandslam, you beat a wales side who are terrible at the moment and its ITALY big deal.

  • Comment number 2.

    Jack, try and control your bitterness. How you cany deny the quality of the game today is incomprehensible. Good article Bryn by the way, sorry not everyone can appreciate it!

  • Comment number 3.

    And Italy nearly beat Ireland and Scotland competed well against France. Where does you logic kcik in?!?!

  • Comment number 4.

    @jacks1988 - Hah, didn't take long for the cynics to come out, did it? I'm willing to bet you're an annoyed Welshman - or perhaps a Scotsman ;)

    I jest. This Grand Slam talk is making a lot of england fans cringe, nobody fancies talking about it yet, there are still some mighty tough fixtures to come, but the fact is, england are at least being talked about possibly doing so - for years we have not been close to doing such a thing, so we have progressed. We're a young side prone to mistakes, but are improving. The rest of the championship will be fascinating to watch.

  • Comment number 5.

    Wales have done well against Scotland, so we have a better indication of England's ability.

    Ireland scraped a win against Italy which they hardly deserved.

    England are looking good. It is a wonderful thing to behold. Australia could not win the Ashes. England are back to winning ways. Enjoy.

  • Comment number 6.

    Come on, you're getting a bit ahead of yourselves. Yes, England were impressive but you've only beaten a below par Wales and an Italian side who are, although improving, still not quite at their best.
    And Ashton has to be one of the most arrogant players I've ever watched. He needs to show a bit of class and respect!

  • Comment number 7.

    Even if no time win the grand slam, England's +50 points difference will come in very handy if it comes down to that for the 6N title.

  • Comment number 8.

    England grand slam , beating a very poor Italian side is not an indication of anything. Just let the tournament get going before talking nonsense. Ashton is a cracking player mind

  • Comment number 9.

    Well done England on a superb win. Well played! I am afraid still not good enough to compete with the big two down South. Please prove me wrong though! First the Grand Slam...

  • Comment number 10.

    It's a good start with a lot to be encouraged by - line outs, breakdown, counterattacking, finishing, subs etc. Well done Johnno. So far. And that's where it ends with talk of a Grand Slam. By the way, where was Brian Moore? It's not the same without him.

  • Comment number 11.

    And Bryn this article is exactly why the English are so popular.
    Remember the football world cup last year?
    Wait until you have won 4 out of 5 and rhen talk about grand slams!

  • Comment number 12.

    Predictable English press - 2 games won and it's a Grand Slam for the taking. I'm sure you also think you can beat the S hemisphere teams and waltz to the World Cup title. Get a grip!

  • Comment number 13.

    Bitterness what bitterness? only stating that england will not beat france or ireland. And yes i am welsh but i dont disagree with the fact england deserved to beat us, we were second best. But Ireland and France are going to be on an entirely different level to wales or italy.

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

    I dont think its certain will win or loose either of those games. On paper france are the best team in the competition. However on form England are. France got smashed at home against the team England destroyed. Obviously rugby is not as simple as that, but just cos France we excellent against Scotland does not mean they will be excellent against us. Same goes for us, we may have a shocker, only we have been on good form as of late. One bad game against the boks but in all the others we have played consitently well. And still missing arguably are best 3 forwards, including our captain. From a specators point of view, this game will be amazing. Both side looking for a six nations win, a fierce rivalry and both playing good attractive rugby. Looks set to be a cracker. Id say it will be very close, no bigger lead than 5-7 points.

  • Comment number 16.

    What a splendid splendid game of rugby. From 1 - 15, all the players were oustanding. Scotland and Ireland are looking very sluggish and prime for the taking. So England vs France will be a titanic game of two sides with blistering form. And you know what, at Twickenham, with the beleif, skill and attitude of our squad we will win a Grand Slam (and hopefully the world cup....). Fact!

  • Comment number 17.

    Can't wait to see Croft and Lawes back in this England side... Currently playing their best rugby since 2003, and in Ashton we finally have a wing that would (on current form at least) stroll into any world 15.

    Glad that we put Italy to the sword today as too often we have taken our foot off the gas in games we are ahead in, it shows commitment and desire - personified by Wilkinson in the 79th minute making a trademark smash to save a certain try when it mattered nothing to the result!

    France game depends on which French team turns up on the day - The one from last week or the one that faced Australia - who knows, i doubt they do either.

    Scotland game depends on if they manage to scrape a win elsewhere, if not they will be after our blood and will play like daemons possessed against us. (always put their best 6n performance in against us)

    Ireland game is a difficult one to call after their truly abject performance of last week, but I expect them to come good, and if so I look forward to another 2003 style showdown in Ireland. (hopefully with the same result!!)

  • Comment number 18.

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves, we still need to play the Irish and the French. But great performances and Chris Ashton is a hero.

  • Comment number 19.

    I thought today was a good win. but perhaps we could be more clinical.I think Johnson is doing a good job.The only thing that worries me is Banahan.He is a 1 trick pony with no guile or pace.I am sure Simpson Daniel would never have a 19 match try drought and would be a perfect replacement for Cueto.JSD is the 2nd best winger behind Ashton

  • Comment number 20.

    It certainly wasn't me who mentioned a "you know what".
    Let's enjoy England winning, scoring tries, and leave anticipation to the stock market.

  • Comment number 21.

    Eng have 2 very tough games against the 2 best teams in the 6n to come and don't be surprised if they get a spanking in both.
    Ire and Fra tomorrow is for the Grand Slam.
    England another 2 or 3 seasons away from challenging for Grand Slam glory.

  • Comment number 22.

    Enjoyed the game today, was able to buy a ticket on open market, first time in a long time, normally have to get one through "traditional channels", does that say something about Italy's perceived attractiveness as opponent?

    Thought their front five competed very well, except at line out where they lost 4 in a row, you could see heads go down then. Missing first up tackles against a side with Ashton running in support was always likely to be costly.

    Would worry if England are turned over as much in contact against France, must have lost at least 5 turnovers, plus 2 or 3 penalties for not releasing, ball carrier isolated, Eng obviously superior today, but a short note of praise for JW, should anyone forget what he has done for English rugby.
    79th minute, winning by 45+ points, he crash tackles the Italian Full back to save a try in the corner, hurts himslf in the process.
    This bloke has done it all, 3 RWC, 2 Lions tours, he's not even first choice any more, Flood playing out of his skin, and he still mullers opponents for fun, Nuff said.

  • Comment number 23.

    Where do you think the "Home nations" will come in the 2011 World Cup??
    Only a question!

  • Comment number 24.

    Bondicov: I think France will mount a serious challenge, England aren't there yet. About a year behaind where we need to be?

  • Comment number 25.

    England played well albeit against a fair Italian team who performed poorly. Think they will have another South Africa moment against France but will be happy to be proved wrong. Ireland, difficult but certainly not unbeatable.The boy Ashton looks a tad useful and I thought the much maligned Banahan looks a decent player against tired legs.

  • Comment number 26.

    well tbh i think scotland, england and ireland will make it to at least the quarter-finals but i really cant see wales getting out of the group especially with the problems fiji and samoa have caused us in the past.

    Qf's i think will be

    australia v samoa or wales if wales can actually beat fiji and samoa.
    england v france
    south africa v ireland
    scotland v new zealand


    australia v england or france (think england or france can beat australia
    ireland v new zealand

    new zealand v again france or england

  • Comment number 27.

    i certainly think england will beat france as the french pack don't fancy the english one and they fear london the way we (ireland) fear paris. i think england v ireland will be a titanic game as we'll have to win to rescue anything from this campaign and we (unlike france) have the backs to keep england out. we have by far the best defence and i wouldn't expect to see Flood walking through tn metre gaps like against wales. if we have ferris and bowe back, then i would tip us to win but i don't see us doing anything at the world cup again.
    so i think england will take the 6 nations with four wins.

  • Comment number 28.

    "But Ireland and France are going to be on an entirely different level to wales or italy".

    France are but Ireland arnt,

  • Comment number 29.

    new zealand v France final would be amazing

  • Comment number 30.

    @ tallshort really ? ireland are alot better than wales and italy at the moment so thats the only reason why ive said theyre at a different level.

  • Comment number 31.

    @jacks1988 - interesting comment to say that Ireland are a "lot" better than Italy given they only just squeaked past them last week.

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • Comment number 33.

    @ barham well we all know ireland are not going to play that badly again. Ireland were absoulutley terrible but they still won, and the occasion of playing england will raise theyre game, they always do. on any other day ireland would of put 30-40 points on italy but every team has one of those days. prime example scotland today everything went wrong for them.

  • Comment number 34.

    Fair comment jacks1988 although as an England supporter this world cup maybe a little early but they have the making of a cracking team!!

  • Comment number 35.

    @ Bondicov i agree with you as a neutral (sometimes lol :P) i dont think that Hape is all that good no offence ,do any england supporters think this ? but other than him i think england have a good sqauad of players.

  • Comment number 36.

    England have a decent chance of winning the six nations but lets not get carried away!!
    At last I can see an "England Team" that has some "Teeth"
    AT LONG LAST!!!!

  • Comment number 37.

    Pains me to say it but again I was very impressed with England. They look very composed and strong in all departments.There seems to be a good understanding between everyone and confidence is flowing high. Chris Ashton, what a player and who wouldn't want Johnny Wilkinson warming the bench. Looking good for a successful world cup, well timed Mr Johnson.

    By the way,Well done Wales, bout time!!!

    P.S Bryn, I thought you were Welsh, bit worried you seem to be flying the flag for the English boys!!

  • Comment number 38.

    haha - jacks is hilarious. ireland are woeful; scotland pose a greater threat!

  • Comment number 39.

    All in all a good review.

    However, I would hesitate before saying 'yes' if asked: 'can England go all the way and get the Grand Slam?" not because i don't think they can, but because we are still making simple mistakes, still dropping the ball and still not finishing chances. We *can* win all our games, but too much hangs in the balance.

    England played well today. That much can be seen.

    If we can take forward the clinical precision and the discipline then we are in for a good chance of the title.

    And should Ashton be taken down a few notches for his celebrations? I don't know, but as long as he is scoring them, I don't think we should criticise too much.

  • Comment number 40.

    Can't understand people abusing ashton for his celebrations, if i was playing for england in the six nations, i'd be whipping out the worm! and can't stand a lot of this anti english rubbish, true people are gearing us up for a fall e.g. south africa, in both rugby and football. If we beat france then i will dream but till then, we've got three very good teams to play, and no pointing jumping the gun.


  • Comment number 41.

    Will you Celts just take a breath! No one is saying England are shoe-ins for a Grand Slam. But after 2 games and 2 wins it's a possibility. England CAN win a Grand Slam, no one is saying they will. After negotiating a tricky match in Cardiff and scoring more tries in one match than the whole of the last 6N's things are looking up. If you want perspective then this is the same Italian team who Ireland needed a last minute drop goal to beat in a turgid match. The victorious Welsh team were made to look very ordinary only a week ago. Scotland competed in Paris but showed very little at home. What does this all mean? Who knows? But as an England fan I'm happy with how the team are progressing at the moment.

    Personally I think if we can beat France we'll win a Grand Slam. If we lose to France we'll also lose to Ireland. The WC? No matter how well we play no one will beat NZ at home. And Chris Ashton, give the guy a break. 9 tries in 9 tests. The first englishman to score four tries in a 5/6N's match for nearly 100 years. I'd be diving over the line if I'd just done that.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm happy to hear talk of England winning the Six Nations, and the WC for that matter. It just makes it all the more satisfying to watch when it all comes crumbling down. Much like the footie - win a couple of games against mediocre opposition, and suddenly you're world-beaters. And then there's Chris Ashton, the new greatest thing since sliced bread. He'll go from sports personality of the year to a burning effigy in the space of six months, much like David Beckham and Wayne Rooney have done at football world cups.
    England's performance against Wales was far more meaningful than today's try-fest against the whipping boys of the group, at home I hasten to add (i.e. the easiest game possible in the six nations). It's true that England look to have assembled a good squad and are performing well, but they have yet to be subject to the sort of thorough examination only that Ireland and (especially) France can provide. After watching Scotland today, their best hopes are for a damage limitation exercise (i.e. try not to get whipped by as much as Italy did).
    This tournament has been between England and France form the outset. So far so good for both sides, therefore nothing has changed. If England harboured any dreams of winning the six nations, they have to beat all comers. So far they've disposed of a team without a win in a year (until disposing of the woeful Scots this afternoon) and the perennial whipping boys. Good, but totally expected if there's to be any chance at glory.
    As for Chris Ashton, I don't have any problem with his 'swallow dive', however I do find his pre-emptive celebration to be in bad taste. There's no shame in taking pride in a job well done, but his celebration before crossing the line is ungentlemanly and epitomises the contemptuous arrogance with which England have approached this tournament. Failing to repect your opponents, in defeat but especially in victory, is something that sticks in my throat. I hope that someone 'accidentally' poleaxes him the next time he scores a try. You know, just gets caught up in the moment, overcome with emotion...

  • Comment number 43.

    Just Love JW and the fact he was tackling like that after coming of the bench. Toby Flood playing really well but who else would you rather come of the bench than Johnny if he is gonna be as committed as that? No fuss, no tantrum at not being first choice any more, just accepts his place and gets on with it. Very professional and a great role model. Long may he be around the England set up.

  • Comment number 44.

    42. At 03:13am on 13 Feb 2011, U2685397 wrote
    I'm happy to hear talk of England winning the Six Nations, and the WC for that matter.
    Really I thought. Really? How nice.
    And then,
    It just makes it all the more satisfying to watch when it all comes crumbling down.

    Ah! So only happy to see England crumble. Haven't read ANY post from ANY Englishman which said they are happy to see Ireland, Scotland or Wales crumble (well maybe me). Seems to me to be another face in that rainy bus stop staring wistfully as the bus passes them by.

    "win a couple of games against mediocre opposition, and suddenly you're world-beaters."

    Never "suddenly" become world beaters and there's not a post you can find that suggests they are (in fact the posts are to the contrary. That means the opposite of.) but they have been. WC winners 2003 finalists 2007.

    Would love to know who this mediocre opposition might be. It can't be Ireland ,Scotland, France, Wales, Australia or South Africa as we have beaten them all at various times over the years (some quite often in recent times)and to talk of Italy as "whipping boys" not only shows disrespect to them but further emphasizes the large chip hanging on your shoulder.
    Would also love to know the identity of this wonderful team you support who no doubt do just the opposite to the England one you so disparage.

    As for Ashton's "dive", what miserable sentiments you of the fun police bring forth. He's a young man on the top of his game and enjoying his time and the best you can come up with is,

    hope that someone 'accidentally' poleaxes him the next time he scores a try.

    Do you really think your posts offer anything to debate?

    You have come on here purely to malign the achievements of England and hope one of their young players gets "poleaxed". This is not a player who runs on with the nickname "beast" or some such or who has ever been seen as a player with an aggressive temperament which might warrant such thoughts.
    He's young, fit plays hard but fair and enjoys himself when he scores.

    Notice you're post is a number, wouldn't be a convict one by any chance?

  • Comment number 45.

    Oh My God !!!
    I thought MODESTY was a rugby Virtue !
    Wait LE CRUNCH & we will talk about GS !

  • Comment number 46.

    I fully understand why some people on here, especially some Celtic fans, are bashing England. The fact is this England team is young, slightly inconsistent, a joy to watch, talented and destined to get better. Ireland is aging, Wales think their players are better than what they are and Scotland are emerging from a dark age longer than England’s. Pure Jealousy of the likes of Ashton, Youngs, Foden, Lawes, Flood, Cole, Croft etc. Win or lose against France it should be a cracking game and further add to the development of this side which has the potential for years of glory ahead. Happy England Fan.

  • Comment number 47.

    I see all this talk about Ashton, and almost none about Toby Flood - which puzzles me.

    Now certainly, Ashton played well and achieved something great. But for me, Flood was the one who found the gaps, started the moves - he's the one who made me lean closer to the screen every time he got the ball. It was the same against Wales.

    Is it just because Flood's 'old news?' Or do the rest of you think I'm just missing Ashton's genius?

  • Comment number 48.

    @44. I'm with you. All power to Chris Ashton. But I was amazed when he did it again. Later on MJ couldn't help laughing (Ashton's last try) so all's well as they say.

    Flood was awesome and I can understand why he keeps a genuine legend on the bench.

    Tom Palmer quietly dominant in the line again.

    Youngs full of ideas.

    That tackle in the 79th.

    We have every right to think ahead to glory.

    Incidentally, I watched the game on France 2. Believe me the French pundits are worried about England. And very complementary I might add.

    Someone above said 'Well timed, Mr. Johnson'.

    They may be right.

    In any event, I'm loving a lot of what England are doing right now.

  • Comment number 49.

    Firstly Jacks1988 is obviously Irish. Jack Charlton, Euro 88 etc etc.
    Ashton is going through a purple patch but he isn't even the best fullback/winger in England never mind strolling on to a world 15.
    time everyone took a good dose of cop-on.
    England may have won the only two games they'll win this season!!
    Wouldn't that be hilarious

  • Comment number 50.

    Enjoying the comments, especially the bitter ones. I must admit that after just two wins it´s a bit early to talk about anything, but when I read comments #1, #6 and #8 I start to believe that we really are a threat.

    "We´ve only beaten Italy". So true. But 59 points is quite a statement. Italy don´t win many, but they rarely get overwhelmed any longer. When was the last time that they shipped so many points? And to hear a Welshman saying that beating Wales in Cardiff is no achievement is a remarkable statement of condemnation.

    With the next two games at Twickenham, it is not arrogant or pie in the sky thinking that the game in Dublin could be for a Grand Slam. England don´t lose too many matches at Twickenham even when playing poorly, so the chance is there. Then the side has to be good enough to take it. The big match is against France in two weeks: win that and the Championship will be there for the taking.

  • Comment number 51.

    Obviously hilarious to you Jonesy.

    But Wales won't be one of the teams that beat them.

    Enjoy your cold leek soup.

  • Comment number 52.

    @51 I'm Irish too.
    Will be even more amusing when the welsh finish above england in the table!!

  • Comment number 53.

    Are Wales going to beat France and Ireland then? that's a HUGE call. If Wales can´t beat England in Cardiff after a week of announcing to the world how one-sided it would be, you have to have great faith to see them walking over Ireland, let alone France. If the reasoning for England being two from two is that they have beaten their weakest opponents, there is an obvious flaw in the logic somewhere.

    And England have just put 46 more points past Italy than Ireland did.

  • Comment number 54.

    I really enjoyed the England game, however look at the stats
    Pens conceded-18
    Errors made-11

    Italy had to chase the game and could not control the ball as they did against Ireland. Italy missed 9 tackles many of which led to a try. I am an Englishman who is very pleased with the progress we are making, however the team still has lots to work on. Lets enjoy the performance and the win but please lets not get carried away with grand slam/rwc success predictions.

  • Comment number 55.

    I am amazed by some of the comments particularly about the world cup etc...

    With regards to the game that WAS played yesterday - I thought England were very good, although still need a bit of penetration and organisation in the forwards in the 22. That will need to improve if we wish to stand a proper chance in the coming weeks and months.

    However, lets put England's performance into context - the Italians were awful. Not since the awful mid 90s have I seen them capitulate so badly. Their defence was abysmal - England were too quick and too powerful.

    In the same way Scotland made Wales look better than they are yesterday. Robinson's game plan in the first 20minutes killed them. I don't know why teams still want to give the ball away by kicking.

    As for Jacks188 or whatever - The Welsh generally chirp about their own team as much as England. But really, we are not the ones you want to watch out for - its Fiji.

  • Comment number 56.

    Honestly, I read some of the blogs and don't know whether to laugh or cry!
    Some of the celtic bloggers just can't find it in themselves to give England a modicum of praise.
    Yes, some of the English media and bloggers go a bit OTT but aren't English fans allowed to celebrate winning?
    What most rugby fans in general can see is that England have slowly turned it around, they are becoming a force again, this 6 Nations will go some way to showing how much further they need to go.
    It may well be too early for this World Cup, but some parallels are beginning to emerge between this build-up and that of 2003.
    One of them being tries - they have scored more tries than the opposition in quite a few games over the last year or so, many by the backs, where's the "boring" tag gone now?
    Finally, to call Chris Ashton "arrogant" (such an overused word, without knowing what it means, a pet hate of mine)?? Have you ever heard the man being interviewed? Good humour, a bit of cheek and on the field, a lot of exuberance, the lad seems to enjoy playing rugby and life in general.
    Rarely hear the word used when describing Shane Williams, do we?

  • Comment number 57.

    As for Jacks188 or whatever - The Welsh generally chirp about their own team as much as England. But really, we are not the ones you want to watch out for - its Fiji.
    And Samoa, and South Africa. Oh Dear............

  • Comment number 58.

    Wait its ok Namibia are in your group. Phew.

  • Comment number 59.

    I don’t see the problem with talking about the Grand Slam.

    Yes, we're only two games in and they were both against poor teams but don’t forget England were the favourites before the Six Nations began. Both wins have been pretty resounding, in the autumn we played very well and we haven’t played very very badly since the last six nations.

    England 59 v 13 Italy 2011
    England 26 v 19 Wales 2011
    England 11 v 21 South Africa 2010
    England 26 v 13 Samoa 2010
    England 35 v 18 Australia 2010
    England 16 v 26 New Zealand 2010
    England 28 v 35 New Zealand Maoris 2010
    England 21 v 20 Australia 2010

    England have been getting better and better. The hype should not be discouraged, we should back our team all the way! COME ON ENGLAND

  • Comment number 60.

    Hello all. I love 6 Nations time! almost as much for the childish "my teams better than your team!" as the rugby!

    Now, away from all hypothesising and jealous sniping, back to the topic of the blog: England's performance yesterday and the potential of a 'you-know-what' winning side.

    IMHO, if England make as many errors and give away a mind-numbing 18 pens against any of our remaining opponents, they are all going to put 20+ on us (Dan Parks, Sexton/O'Gara don't miss do they? And the french have about 6 goalkickers in their squad too, so if one has a bad day then another will step up). BUT! it's been so long since other teams had to really account for England in their gameplanning...not jst say "we'll play our game and it's up to the English to match us," that I think it understandable to get a little excited. The same way we were after beating the Aussies down-under, and destroying them at home, putting up a better fight against the ABs then the other tri-nations teams often managed...we have one of the international form wingers in the world, whether or not u like that dive, Floodys had too excellent games, Cueto finally scored a try and you can only beat what's infront of you on any given day.

    At the moment, other teams fear england, maybe not SA/NZ, and for the first time in I don't know how long, we're on a roll with far more recent, relevant, wins than all you bitter celts etc, let us be excited, we deserve it right now! If it comes crashing down around our ears tell us then that actually we're not as good as we think we can be, because right only sound like scared opponents to me!

  • Comment number 61.

    Six Nations: Martin Johnson wants England to improve.

    The headline says it all really. He wasn´t happy after the Wales game and he´s not happy today either. Step up the game for bigger challenges. Nothing arrogant in that, or in the way that Ashton got reprimanded for showboating (as the Daily Telegraph pointed out, some time he´s going to drop the ball doing that and look like a total idiot).

    I like the way that Martin Johnson is handling the side.

  • Comment number 62.

    12. At 8:58pm on 12 Feb 2011, TomJonesDad wrote:
    Predictable English press - 2 games won and it's a Grand Slam for the taking. I'm sure you also think you can beat the S hemisphere teams and waltz to the World Cup title. Get a grip!
    Its bring on the muppets time..

    Bryn is actually Welsh boyo...and a fair keep your whining about 'English press' to yourself.
    You know nothing about what I think but for what its worth I reckon England have a chance against the SH teams but will not win the world cup.

  • Comment number 63.

    Great to see an England team put 50 points on an opponent when they're on offer, which shows the progress we've made over the last few years. I now believe we have a backline (and ball carriers) who can create tries against any team in the world, and it's been a long time since that was the case.

    That said I agree with keith (54) that we are still far too naive in the penalties we concede and the possession we hand over during important passages in the game. You just cannot afford to give brainless penalties away and allow the opposition a way back into the game. That's why I'm glad Martin Johnson came straight out with it during the post-match interview and didn't get carried away with the scoreline.

    Before the tournament started I actually had us down to narrowly win against France at home but to lose away in Ireland on the last day. I just think that Ireland are playing well below par and that that ageing core of their side will put in one last 6N performance to deny England victory. Hope I'm wrong ;)

    It's is far too premature to be talking about what's going to happen on the last day though. We just need to make sure we play to our potential every game and if we do that then we've got a shot at winning the tournament.

  • Comment number 64.

    This is why I love the 6N. Objectivity goes out the window!

    Couple of reasons why I think England will deliver.

    1 MJ will not let them get carried away with any talk of a GS. Way too early.

    2 England have quality (and strength in depth) in key positions - half backs, back row, back 3.

    Never take anything for granted - we have to keep up the quality we displayed yesterday against the better sides to come both at 6N and WC and improve consistency. Cut out the silly mistakes.

    Agree with comments on Flood - really impressive. But Youngs makes him look impressive and the pack makes Youngs look impressive. Ashton - yes arrogant, but 9 tries in 9 matches - can't argue with that.

    Star performers for me yesterday were in pack. Palmer again superb. Easter (despite a couple of howlers) v good. Wood was R Hill like - no greater compliment. Front row v solid. Even Haskell whom I don't rate is looking good. Masses of quick ball - just what England have lacked for years.

    But it was just Italy and they had a shocker.

    BTW, Scotland were appalling yesterday. Totally inept performance which is a shame as they looked pretty good against France. R Lamont only player who performed.They badly missed Richie Gray (Hines needs to retire). Wales did enough but they should have won by a mile yesterday. Hook made a difference at 10. But I think they a pretty average side (Warburton and Lydiate aside who are both class).

    BTW2 - Lee Byrne and M Phillips - don't know why but I find them both totally obnoxious - may be the hair gel.

    As always, enthralling stuff.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think our centre pairing is less threatening than the Andrex puppy.

    I don't see them creating gaps - which means all the work has to come off the wings. That makes us a little predictable - if we lose Ashton (whether to injury or Kelly Brook) then the problem will become more apparent.

    We need more creativity elsewhere in the backs.

    I don't think the penalty count is too much of an issue. There were some stupid penalties, but there were penalties associated with having so much ball such as crossing.

    The ref was also keen to blow up - a little bit too much - I think the Italians will agree.

    The other worry is the penetration from the forwards on the opposition's 5m line. Even against Australia in the Autumn as well as South Africa, Samoa, New Zealand and Wales - we still lack coordination in the forwards. I would also like to see us offload more. Not all teams will miss the first tackle like the Italians (I think their poor number 9 thought it was a game of touch) - the offload is a secondary way of continuing a move as if the first tackle is broken.

  • Comment number 66.

    Whilst I am in the zone of where we can improve -

    I would also like to see a change in selection ethos - Lawes is injured, so we called in Deacon. I can't see Deacon ever getting anymore than a 7 in a game.

    But Johnson is keen on a couple of lumps in the second row. If Haskell/Wood continues to do well (ideally at 6) and we find a fetcher at 7 (Moody) - then how good would it be to have Croft and Lawes in the second row when fit.

    The game is no longer about power - its about speed and momentum.

    That said, I can't help thinking that when a centre or second row gets an injury - Johnson's secondary list of players reads:

    'Noon or someone/something like him'
    'Arinle - he is in France, he must be good'
    'Any player over 17stone and 6ft 8 - good for centre as well as 2nd row'
    'Find out what Ben Kay is up to'
    'Check out some of the big rugby league lads - preferably with NZ caps'
    'Ring Leicester Tigers'
    'Don't call James Simpson Daniel'
    'Remember Louis Deacon has a brother that was at Leicester'

  • Comment number 67.

    no1. Coz Ireland were so stonking against Italy weren't they? Ireland are probably the 2nd weakest side in the 6 Nations this year.

    I am not pleased by this Grandslam bandwagon chat. We are getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. Lets not forget its been a long time since England strung together 4 or 5 really good performances. We saw in Autumn what can happen when England think they've cracked the rugby playing nut!

    With respect to ashton... yes England have a blinding poacher, have been really impressed with him so far. He always pops up in the right place at the right time, its a knack and a very useful one to have. Its been a while since you think England have had a genuinely world class finisher (Robinson 2005 perhaps) so its great to see someone who is always there one the spot at the break down and running GREAT support lines. That's why he's got his rewards in this match, he's never going to the the type of winger who sits out wide for 80 minutes which is a good thing because what he's doing at the moment is just what England need!

    Hopefully he can keep form AND fitness for a little while longer yet!

  • Comment number 68.

    Blimey, isn't it amazing what happens when someone (not me, I just wrote the blog) puts a headline with 'Grand Slam' in it! Loving all the chat, keep it coming.

    Re: No 11 (lawther420) and No 12 (TomJonesDad) - you don't know much comments like that make me laugh. The clue is in my name! Don't worry No 37) ellfromgavenny - I am indeed Welsh, from just outside Abergavenny in fact, went to school there (King Henry VIII Comp). Great result yesterday. Can reassure you there's certainly no flag flying on my behalf for England. As an impartial BBC journalist, I'm only pointing out the obvious really ie that England have started very well, confidence is high, they're on a roll and hence people are already talking about a possible Grand Slam (my last line).

    As I also pointed out, England were far from perfect yesterday, they could have had four or five more tries, they still gave away silly penalties at the breakdown, and Italy made them look good - I was very disappointed how easily the Italians' defence folded once the game was up. Couldn't understand why Mallett dispensed with Burton at fly-half, who I thought had a decent game against Ireland, and played Orquera, who just crabbed across the field and was woeful defensively.

    It's a personal opinion, and nothing more, that England will beat France and Scotland at home in their next two matches and go to Dublin looking for a Grand Slam. The French game in a fortnight should be an absolute belter. Coaches and players are fond of saying beforehand that the Six Nations is all about momentum. They're right. And England have it.

  • Comment number 69.

    Ashton is a quality finisher, well done England. However the media in England puts so much pressure on their teams, 2games in and its grand slam already! Happened with the footy team in south africa . . ! Much bigger tests to come in the form of the Handsome Irish and those stylish Frenchmen!!!

  • Comment number 70.

    Ashton: arrogant?
    This must be the celtic word of the week.
    Go and learn what it means before ignorantly plastering it all over this blog.

    A winger scoring the majority if his tries down the middle of the park: spot on.

    Colin Charvis summed Ashton up brilliantly on the BBC last night: just a young lad playing rugby with a smile on his face.

    The SH have been show boating for years in the super 12/13/14/15/16

    Just the same old tedious, boring, brainless anti-English sentiment. Go and find a nationalist web site to bore everyone with your small minded, xenophobic views, and leave this blog for rugby fans.

  • Comment number 71.

    Bryn, your editorial comment (#68) has been a classic! Best laugh I´ve had all morning.

    We beat France at Twickenham - probably a 70-30 bet, but let´s see how they do against Ireland, the game should end the 6N challenge for one or other team - that match for the Grand Slam will be getting close enough to touch. My French colleagues feel that they probably have the best side, but that playing Ireland and England away will make it very tough for them to win the Championship this year. At least after two games we still have a chance: that hasn´t happened too often in recent years.

    Just a thought... the opposition is as good as you let them be. When you put a try past a side almost straight from the kick-off most sides will struggle a bit after that. Maybe we are talking down the opposition just a bit too much?

  • Comment number 72.

    Re: No 47) smallvizier. You make a very salient point re: Flood. In the same way I would have given Palmer MOM last week, I would have given it to Flood this week, even though you can understand why it went to Ashton. It's not often an England player scores 4 tries in a Championship match, after all.
    But Flood put tries on a plate for Ashton and Cueto (taking a late hit from Canale in the process for the latter). He continually asked questions of the Italian defence with his probing passing and kicked six out of six at goal. I made it 33 minutes before he made his first mistake - a loose pass that went to ground - and apart from missing touch with a penalty just before half-time, I don't think there were any others. Interestingly after the game, Flood couldn't give enough credit to Youngs (who put him through gaps several times, including for Ashton's opening try). I asked Flood afterwards if he was disappointed to have to come off after just 55 mins, and he said: "At times it is nice to know your job has been done." Spot on.

  • Comment number 73.

    There's no problem with talking about a Grand Slam as long as you still have a 100 percent record and after today, only England and either Ireland or France (barring a draw) will still have one, so those two can justifiably think about it.

  • Comment number 74.

    First off, well played England. Play well and win and it's an under par Wales, or a poor Italy (who nearly beat a seasoned Ireland), or play badly and they are lamb basted by all and lucky to squeak by. My point is that whilst the talk of a GS is premature, credit has to be given to a team that can win and win well (especially as 3 or 4 key players have been missing).

    I give credit to Ireland for squeezing out an Italy side baying for blood. Ireland played badly but showed they are mentally tough by securing the kick off and scoring a drop goal.

    England are playing well, better than anticipated and all the boring defensive chatter of 2 years ago seems to be paying off now as England are focusing on moving the ball around now that the basics are sorted. I always coach teams to get teh basics right first, the rest will follow in good time and a foundation for a long term good side will be in place.

    If you look at England now, 1 to 22 they are focused, know their roles and execute them well. Sure there are mistakes, and sure the Boks game was poor, but all in all, the last 12 months has been a revelation and a YOUNG England side are maturing quickly and are a challenge for anyone.

    To end, no WC this year, it's too soon. GS? Lets see after next week if the true calibre of a winning team is there. 6 Nations Champions, just maybe but that's a heck of an improvement on the last 7 years.

    Oh, and the Bannahan naysayers. . . leave the lad alone. He's a converted Lock and actually has vision and guile. He is not a one trick pony. Would love to see more of JSD though but well done Matt Bannahan for making a point every time he plays.

  • Comment number 75.

    As a Irish man and big Irish fan, it kills me to say but England are looking very good, Grand slam is still on for them and that is what counts. To beat a team in the 6 nations by 50 points is something special. They still have 3 games to play and you sould never forget the scots love to beat Englan. Love Ashton, great player having a great tournament, and the dive is fantastic, there is nothing arrogant when you are as good as him. Lots hope the rest of the games are exciting with lots of big scoring games.

  • Comment number 76.

    Joseph, you sound just like the guy whose office is in front of mine!!!

    Ireland v France. This looks like being the key game of the 6N so far. I´d still back Ireland to sneak it. As my Irish colleague said at the the time, it was impressive to come back with the last kick of the game having looked dead in the water against Italy when they conceeded that late score.

  • Comment number 77.

    Yes, Flood was a good contender for MOM, his decisions tend to be the right ones, a very intelligent player. But Youngs helped to put him in space, who in turn was given good ball to work with by the forwards. Let's not forget it's a team game. So, being in the right place to finish the 4 tries would still get Ashton the nod from me.
    Quick word about the England front row. Not too many scrums and I know a pack is 8 men, not just 3, but Italy would have targetted them before the game and they looked very comfortable.
    1 to 22 all seem to know what they are doing now, wasn't always the case, so hats off to MJ too.
    By the way, I nearly fell off my chair when he smiled and said that his players should enjoy themselves. Good on him!

  • Comment number 78.

    Reviewing yesterday's performance it would be only reasonable to expect rumblings in the press and amongst supporters about a Grand Slam.
    The team played very well and racked up an impressive score. But that Italian side was 1 away from home (and yes that matters) 2 defended very very very poorly 3 lost 8 of 13 of their own line-outs and missed 19 tackles 4 Most likely exhausted from the efforts of the previous weekend at home to Ireland where they almost stole a win. Also England almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against the Welsh.

  • Comment number 79.

    #75 Ashton and 'nothing arrogant'? I don't agree. Exuberance is one thing but do we want this behaviour in lots of games? One great thing about rugby union as distinct from football, say, is the mature response to scoring great tries. Soon we'll have guys running to the corner flag and doing a dance if this trend continues. This diving should not be highlighted by the BBC web site. It is a team game not a glory opportunity from an individual.

  • Comment number 80.

    @ 55 and 57 your mocking my comments about the world cup and how it shouldnt be england wales should worry about its samoa and fiji you two should try reading the comment properly first, i said ,i doubt wales will make it out of the group with the trouble fiji and samoa have caused us in the past so i really dont get your comments about me ?? also i have not chirped about our players at all one of my first comments was England deserved to beat us.

  • Comment number 81.

    75. Hey Joseph, thanks for that. Just shows there are lots of reasonable people out there who can appreciate a good game of rugby and a good team without getting bitter.

    Good luck to your boys today.

  • Comment number 82.

    I hope the France vs Ireland game is a good one because the two games yesterday were not that exciting. Two teams dominating and the other two misfiring or not competing, not a good advert for the game.

    Italy have got to get some backs from somewhere, if they do they will be dangerous but that might be a decade or two away, which is a shame.

    I think talk of the grand slam is very premature, looking at the fixture list the France game was always going to be the one that if we won that then there is a chance; but Scotland will not be easy, there is potential for an upset there and Ireland in Ireland is always a tough game.

    If France turn up and play they will beat England as they can anyone, as we have seen in the past but England have a very good record at Twickenham and France also have a tendency to crumbling.

    I do not understand at times the bitterness from the other home nations to England, when Ireland and Wales won their recent Grand Slams I was genuinely chuffed for them. I do have Welsh and Irish great grandparents but I consider myself now a full Englishman. Why the hatred, it is pathetic.

    All I want is good close exciting games with the ball in hand like the opener in Cardiff and for bursts in Paris. The sooner Italy regularly start upsetting the other sides the better. I support Italy when they play us, bizarre I know but I want them to beat the top sides and that will grow the game further.

  • Comment number 83.

    Well done England. A thoroughly deserved win. Any international outfit that hits the half century in what is a difficult comp is doing pretty well in my eyes. As my name would suggest i'm no expert in the dark arts of the front row, but i thought the debutant prop whose name i have no intention of trying to spell performed remarkably well. There weren't many scrums but he certainly didn't look out of his comfort zone. Hape had a good game which will give confidence. Not sure if he's the right man just yet and think England must get someone else with game time in there, but it's a performance he can kick on from. All round good performance.

    Our boys, the Irish have a major test today. Simply don't know how this is going to pan out. I'm going to my prayer book!!

  • Comment number 84.

    I do love 6N time because it brings out that last acceptable prejudice - that of being anti-English - amongst our Celtic friends. It also brings out the massive inferiority complex they have when it comes to the Southern Hemisphere and France....great entertainment.

    I recall my Welsh friend saying to me after 2003 - with a straight face - that he "wouldn't like to see Wales winning the World Cup playing 10 man rugby" and that he "wanted to see Australia or New Zealand win it!". In 2007, his texts to me after the group match against South Africa were only matched by his bitter texts leading up to the final.

    There's nowhere to go when you are dealing with that level of madness.

  • Comment number 85.

    Here we go ... England win their first two games in the 6 Nations, and the PRESS start talking Grand Slams !! Take a reality check guys.

    I don't hear Martin Johnson contemplating anything other than consistently improving the team's performance in every game - he knows that the toughest tests are to come, and that every English player will need to be focussed and committed to winning.

    I DO wish the press hacks would actually listen to someone of Johnson's standing, and take their direction / optimism from someone that actually knows what they are talking about.

  • Comment number 86.

    I do love 6N time because it brings out that last acceptable prejudice - that of being anti-English - amongst our Celtic friends. It also brings out the massive inferiority complex they have when it comes to the Southern Hemisphere and France....great entertainment.

    I recall my Welsh friend saying to me after 2003 - with a straight face - that he "wouldn't like to see Wales winning the World Cup playing 10 man rugby" and that he "wanted to see Australia or New Zealand win it!". In 2007, his texts to me after the group match against South Africa were only matched by his bitter texts leading up to the final.

    There's nowhere to go when you are dealing with that level of madness.
    I went to Australia for the 2001 British Lions tour and despite the loss I enjoyed every minute. Singing, dancing, drinking with our Celtic friends in a togetherness that was immediately shattered as soon as the final whistle on the final test went. Two months every 4 years is enough, would make the 6 nations very boring if everyone didn't hate the English.

  • Comment number 87.

    Ref 68
    Remarkably ‘Bryn’ I did know you were Welsh but the clue isn’t necessarily in the name- have you ever met Bryn Cunningham of Ulster Rugby – born and bred Ulster man but still ( weirdly!) a Welsh name in there.

    I have a son called Scott who has nothing to do with Scotland!

    My point was a general one about the number of people on this and other 606 pages who now see England as the best in the world!

  • Comment number 88.

    Ref 68
    Remarkably ‘Bryn’ I did know you were Welsh but the clue isn’t necessarily in the name- have you ever met Bryn Cunningham of Ulster Rugby – born and bred Ulster man but still ( weirdly!) a Welsh name in there.

    I have a son called Scott who has nothing to do with Scotland!

    My point was a general one about the number of people on this and other 606 pages who now see England as the best in the world!

    Please find one post that states England are the best in the world. Some excited biased views but no one has been that deluded have they?

  • Comment number 89.

    Hi Bryn

    Yes I knew you were Welsh, we grew up together in Pandy and as I recall you were a far more accomplished footballer than rugby player!!!

    Always enjoy reading your blogs, well written and always an interesting read. Keep them going throughout the six nations .

    Got to agree with you that England have looked the best team so far throughout the 6nations.

    I do miss our games on the school fields against the townies

    All the best

  • Comment number 90.

    Who can begrudge Chris Ashton's celebrations? If he played for any other country he would be praised for his try scoring genius. Carry on Chris;you must be doing something right if you've got under the skin of some of the miserable curmudgeons who grace these message boards! As for England winning the Grand Slam: yes, they have a chance, which is more than can be said for Wales and Scotland. Fancy an England supporter daring to expect success.... perhaps that's what won us a World Cup!

  • Comment number 91.

    After today's result, it seems this year's Championship will be between England and France (please note - no mention of Grand Slams !!), so all the bitter, disillusioned Anglophobes will just have to lump it and choke on their own bile until 2012.
    Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

  • Comment number 92.

    After seeing this weekend´s games, Ireland are going to have to raise their game a lot to beat England. Against Italy brinkmanship worked. Against France it has not. France are the eternal puzzle. Far from convincing today, a better side would have buried them.

  • Comment number 93.

    I don't see why England shouldn't have GS at the back of their collective minds. Has there been two better performances by any other team so far in the comp? Ireland were shocking in our carelessness when it came to penalties conceded, handling errors yet again, scrum time, crucial lineout goes on. Unless these things are corrected, and fast we may not win another game. Wales at home won't be easy and lets face it we usually under perform against the Scots. England could take us apart quite easily. And if this French team plays in such a lack lustre fashion England will punish. Not a happy Irish man.

  • Comment number 94.

    Why not start thinking about an English Grand Slam? It's been a long time since we last slayed the dragon in it's own lair and now Italy have been outclassed.

    Congrats to France for beating the Irish on their own turf but I think we'll have the edge on ours, the Scots, sad to say(Scotland are my second team) need to seriously get their act together as do the Irish if they're going to stop us.

  • Comment number 95.

    I find the criticism of Ashton very strange - perhaps some people have short memories? Shane Williams has been celebrating tries with similar 'arrogance' for years and doesnt get any criticism for it. So why is Ashton getting picked on? Personally I think it is great to see people playing with pace, skill, flair and a SMILE. It is entertaining and will bring the crowds back...would you really rather go back to how England were playing 2 years ago?!

    Re comment #10. I disagree entirely...Whoever decided to replace Brian Moore with Greenwood was genius! What a difference...positive, incisive comments which added to the overall enjoyment of the game. Moore simply focusses on the negative aspect of any game he is commenting on, usually in reference to some technical issue with the scrum or he is moaning about the referee. Even his own colleagues make reference to his downbeat commentary. Personally I would replace him with Will anytime.

  • Comment number 96.

    England, Arrogance and Grand Slams

    Before the Scotland-England match in 1990, one nation had already made the celebration rugby tops. Guess which one?

  • Comment number 97.

    England now start to think of GS after beating Italy --- yeah right England and it's media started talking about it after beating woeful Wales

    Just the same as your overpaid celebrity football lot who think all they've got to do is turn up. This is what grates people with England in general - this cocky sense of entitlement and arrogance. Its the default mindset.

    I've a got a tenner on Eng to win the GS --- it's probably about time only Scotland and Italy have failed to win one since Eng last did. So some compensation if they do and a tenner well spent if they don't

  • Comment number 98.

    @95, I take it you mean Lawrence Dallaglio. I also completely disagree with all the posts suggesting Ashton shouldn't celebrate. It isn't crass, it isn't disrespectful, it's just a supremely talented bloke enjoying scoring. It makes it interesting, yes he may drop one in the near future and that might make him stop, but why should he curb his enthusiasm? It's what we need, more sportsmen with a sense of humour, enjoying their sport instead of doing so for the monetary rewards.

    And on the basis of what we have seen so far this tournament, why shouldn't England be thinking about a Grand Slam, France were poor again today, Ireland gave them the game with ill discipline, score 3 tries and lose, not a good stat. If France travel as poorly as they have done this week to Twickenham, the momentum will keep on rolling.

  • Comment number 99.

    Re: lawther420 - no worries mate, it does make me chuckle though whenever I write anything remotely positive about England, I always get accused of being part of some strange 'English media' bias. To be fair I don't think anyone here is getting carried away to the extent they think England are the best team in the world. But they are already ranked the highest of the European nations (fourth), which they may well reinforce at the end of the Six Nations.

    To be honest I thought at the start of the tournament, whoever won the opening Wales v England game would go on to win the title. I stand by that prediction. If Wales had won two out of two, we all know we'd be thinking about Grand Slams too. And after today's game, we now know that only two teams can have that thought in the back of their minds.

    Personally I find it strange that people have a go at France. They may not have conformed to type today and thrown the ball about willy-nilly, but it was still a powerful performance to grind out a win in a hostile atmosphere against difficult opponents, even if Ireland will be kicking themselves at some of the points they gave away. Gordon D'Arcy will have better nights' sleeps. That's two poor games in a row. If you're Paddy Wallace, you'd be upset if you weren't picked against Scotland. Think he'd help take the pressure off Sexton a bit too, give them another kicking option.

    Re 89) Ell - all makes sense now fella! Good to hear from you. You're not wrong, my footie was probably better than my rugby - still play a bit of 5-a-side these days. Those games against the Aber boys were great weren't they? Happy days.

  • Comment number 100.

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


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