England open RBS Six Nations campaign with win over Wales

Thank goodness for that. A much-needed victory for Martin Johnson’s beleaguered England team. It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, and the neutrals probably didn’t get much enjoyment out of it, but England won and deserved to do so.

The game was error-strewn throughout, with both sides making far too many errors, and for long periods of play, there was nothing noteworthy happening.

Whilst it’s a winning start for England, it’s not exactly a marker laid down, and if were France or Ireland – or Scotland for that matter – I wouldn’t be too worried.

We’ll have all the reaction, player ratings and plenty of opinion over the next few days, but for now let us know what you thought of the game, of the performances of each side, of individual players – everyone has an opinion!

7 thoughts on “England open RBS Six Nations campaign with win over Wales

  1. Gutted about yesterday, but England were good for their victory. There back three, wingers an fullback looked good under the high ball and their pack did the job they needed. The backs with the ball though were going backwards.

    Wales simply didn’t deserve to take it in the end with the terrible performance in the first half.

    17 points with 14 men shouldn’t over-shadow the main reason Wales played so badly.

    Hooker and Scrum-Half.

    Gareth Williams simply cannot throw into the lineout, madness picking him. HUgh Bennit will start against Scotland if Rees doesn’t return.

    Worst performance for Welsh number 9 since I can remember. There’s no way Cooper will ever start for Wales again, he has terrible delivery and consistantly makes the wrong decision. Richie Rees looks for sharper.

    If Scotland take it today, Wales could find next week very hard going too.

  2. Indeed, Wales were pretty poor. It’s just as well, because England weren’t much good either. They did the job though, and hopefully they can push on from here.

    Wales definitely missed Rees and Jenkins, and I think they would have been the difference between winning and losing.

  3. It was one of those games where the win mattered more than the performance. A very scrappy, error-strewn match typical of the opening weekend. England will improve as the weeks go on, and the return of Flutey will give our backline far more shape.

    I thought Armitage had a shocker, but thankfully, so did Byrne. I hope the former picks his form up soon.

    The game was what it was, a match played with two incredibly nervous looking sides desparate not to lose. The win will give England a lot of confidence, and fingers crossed with a good win in Rome, sets us up nicely for the Ireland match at Twickenham.

    Tait’s switch of angle, breaking away from the Welsh defenders and brining his own support line into play, turning Williams’ inside out, and pass behind his back was class. Cueto, whilst not the flashiest winger by any means, is one of the first name’s on the teamsheet.

    Borthwick had a great game. Let Shaw worry about the carrying and muscling his way in the loose. Borthwick’s presence at the lineout is invaluable. It’s been a real area of strength for England for years. And as Marshall in the studio says, he does the little unnoticeable things.

    For a big guy Hartley gets smashed back a lot.

    Payne stood up to be counted as he was always was going to, not being surrounded by a rubbish Wasps tight 5, scrummaging wise.

    Easter and Haskell were great. Wilkinson’s ability to keep the scoreboard ticking over is a huge benefit, I just hope he combines well with Flutey and brings his backline into the game v Italy.

  4. some disappointing areas for england, but a big win, and the chance to really build up some momentum by taking a poor italian side to the cleaners next w/e while the other 4 countries batter into each other the day before. i hope flutey’s fit, and would be tempted to start the front row which finished yesterday.

    fed up with the awful aerial camera shots the bbc kept serving up – dreadful! KISS – keep it simple, stupid!

  5. It was a crap game as a spectacle wasn’t it? In fact, not a great opening weekend all round really, as the other two games went well off the boil in the second half.

    I can’t believe that after Wales were so disappointing (by their own admission) in the Autumn, a team managed by Gatland and Edwards served up a performance like that. Their lineout was shocking, Cooper was clueless and I don’t understand them picking Hook at 13 at all. After all the hype Byrne was very off colour too.

    A few positives for England – strong lineout, much much better discipline, and I thought they finished the last try well – when Armitage intercepted there was still much work to do. England of old would have all got in each other’s way and blown it, but that was a good finish with well timed passes and good support running from all involved. I agree that Easter played well, and in fact it was the most balanced looking back row we’ve had for a good while. Care was very good too and showed a lot more maturity than in recent England games.

    On the negative side, I couldn’t believe the way we wasted a 3 on 2 and then a 3 on 3 in the first half by just flinging the ball all the way to Monye without drawing any defenders first. We could do with taking a look at Bastareaud’s second try today for the way the French time their passes and take defenders out of the game. Basic stuff.

    Personally I thought Payne was pretty poor and I think we have real problems at loose head when Sheridan’s injured (which is a lot just lately).

    I still can’t believe the way we seem so reluctant to use the backline. As relieved as I was to see Haskell score his first, it did go some way to vindicate our overuse of the pick and drive. Haskell only just made it through some quick thinking, but had we spun it wide, Cueto could have run it in backwards with the ball in one hand and a cigar in the other, but we never put it wide. It may have got us a try yesterday but we’ve seen that it’s not enough against the very best in the world in the last two Autumn series.

    Shame for a game to be so influenced by a sin-binning, but I have no sympathy for people who trip. We were a tad lucky though – did you see Shaw’s taking out of Gareth Williams for Care’s try as pointed out by Andy Nicol? Very sneaky, and I don’t think he’d have scored the try without that.

    Overall, a step in the right direction but still much to work on.

  6. That’s a pretty fair summary, Rob. It was one of those games though where the result was more important than the performance. Hopefully, they’ll take some confidence to Rome and improve in a few areas, and then maybe we’ll be in reasonable shape for Ireland.

    Wales’ defence was good, but why didn’t we test it? Jonny had some decent possession, but all we could manage was pass, pass, pass, contact.

    Still, three tries is two more than we scored in the autumn, and it’s a decent platform to build on for the rest of the tournament.

  7. Positives

    1. We won. Not pretty, not fancy, but it was an important game which needed to win and thats what we did
    2. The pack. Personally think they played pretty well as a unit, though Payne did look out of his depth and Hartley and Shaw got carried backwards several times
    3. Borthwick. Not a fan of his at all, but fair play to him (especially after all the criticism) to put in a great performance. If Johnno insists on having him in the team, then i insist he plays like that all the time. Still shouldn’t be captain though
    4. Discipline
    5. Defence
    6. We scored 3 tries

    Negatives

    1. Flood and Tait combo. Sorry, but I though Flood had an awful game and poor Tait hardly ever got the chance to touch the ball let alone run with it
    2. About 20mins in the first half where we lost all direction and it looked as though it was going to be a repeat of the AI’s
    3, Kicking out of hand – unbelievably poor, especially having seen BOD and O’Gara doing it so well an hr before

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