Following on from The Blindside’s pre-match assessment of England vs. Wales, here’s a quick post-match analysis.

In that article I predicted that despite Wales being closer to their full-strength side, England’s strength in depth would see them through by less than 7 points.

Right in some ways, wrong in others.  The prediction result was right, even though I feared Wales might win, but I wasn’t expecting the total dominance that England had, especially in the second half.

The ability of certain players (who are not necessarily considered first choice at the moment) is testament to the depth of England’s squad strength and the desire these players have to get into contention for England’s tour to Australia.

Eddie Jones instils belief

Eddie Jones clearly instils a belief in the players that lets them go out and express themselves. Two players in particular who have dropped down the pecking order were impressive.

  • Joe Launchbury – made 10 tackles during the match and his 2 turnovers came at important moments to stifle Wales attacks in the England 22.  As Man of the Match he was also a willing carrier of the ball, making the hard yards as a lock should do.
  • Marland Yarde – made 7 tackles during the game to stifle Welsh breaks, and also 2 clean line-breaks.

Both have excellent players ahead of them in the pecking order so their performances are unlikely to get them into the starting 15 (in the case of Yarde it probably won’t even get him onto the bench), but it’s a good problem for the coach to have.

Ford’s kicking a concern

A major cause for concern was George Ford’s kicking.  If he had a success rate similar to Owen Farrell’s it could have been a real thumping for Wales (rather than just a comprehensive win for England).

Jones seemed happy with the rest of his play though which could indicate that the Ford, Farrell partnership may remain intact for the tour.

New players

A number of players received their first caps and it was promising to see them, and the other players with under 5 caps performing to the high standards expected.

Jack Clifford’s try showed a turn of pace the you would not see from Billy Vunipola.  Whether it was a knock-on or not, to finish from there was something few No. 8’s would have been able to do.

All of the new front-row players carried out their roles to a high standard and there will be little fear that the England pack will suffer at scrum-time in the same way they did (almost incomprehensibly) in the WC.

Wales’s concerns

To come to Twickenham with a strong side and get so comprehensively beaten must be a concern for Wales.  To lose to England like that must be painful, but to take essentially the same team on tour to New Zealand must make them fearful of record losses.

I answered a poll on Wales Online about who will win the first test, NZ or Wales.  Even there the poll result (at the time) was 21% Wales / 79% NZ.  I think if you placed the poll in any other rugby playing nation it would be more like 3% Wales / 97% NZ.

Wales have been one of the most successful teams in the NH since 2003, but there’s still a concern that they can never take the next step and start to beat the SH sides regularly.

Controversy

The try by Jack Clifford was a great finish, but it was the pass / contact immediately before the ball went to ground that caused consternation.

It’s a tough call for any ref or TMO and with all the available evidence it’s hard to disagree with the TMO decision that “there’s nothing clear and obvious.

Take a look at the video below (with spider cam) and I’m fairly sure that if you have an objective view you will say you can’t be sure.

Saying that, if I was on the wrong side of that decision I’d feel agrieved.

In summary

So in summary, a better than expected day for England.  Some players have put their hands up for inclusion in the match day squad, though they will have to train well to unseat the incumbents.,

Wales must embrace their underdog status and hope that the fact the All Blacks haven’t played together since their WC win will be their undoing.