Flash in the pan or long term hope?

England’s back three gave a more accomplished performance than we have seen for some years at Twickenham on Saturday, and some commentators are heralding our new hero.

Delon Armitage

It was certainly encouraging to see an England side with determination to run with the ball at pace, rather than settling for some of the pedestrian one-dimensional lack of creativity we have seen in recent times.

Even Johnno said it was a fine debut for Delon Armitage, but it wasn’t exactly the sternest of examinations and we oughtn’t get carried away.

The Pacific Islanders were disappointingly poor – their defence was fairly slack, they threw around bad quality ball that was regularly bobbing around the turf and they lacked the tactical nous to test England in ways that didn’t involve running hard and fast at the nearest man.

Paul Sackey, Ugo Monye and Armitage were the beneficiaries of the opposition’s deficiencies, and all three are likely to start against Australia next week even if Mathew Tait and Nick Abendanon recover from injury.

Robbie Deans’ Wallabies will not be quite so naive. They’ll want to play the game away from England’s forwards (and Sheridan in particular) and target the inexperienced back three as a potential weakness. Matt Giteau will be showering Armitage with high balls in the way that Pierre Hola didn’t and we could see the bubble burst faster than it was created in his ‘Man of the Match’ performance.

So let’s not get too carried away with the promising signs, as for now they remain just that: promise.

One thought on “Flash in the pan or long term hope?

  1. You’ve got to love the ‘all-or-nothing’ sensationalism in some parts of the press. If one of the ‘Black 3’ as Ugo Monye called them drops a high ball next week I’m sure some journalists will start crying false dawn again.

    The truth is that they equipped themselves well and showed plenty of promise but were never under any pressure. We’ll find out a lot more when they have a ball coming down with snow on it and Stirling Mortlock and co hoving into view at a rate of knots.

    Saturday’s game against the canary yellows is far more likely to be decided in the back row than the back 3 and that may be an area of concern. Croft was anonymous and Easter was quiet. Rees was certainly the best of them but is going to need far more support if he is to achieve a level footing against George Smith. If that doesn’t happen then we’ll get annihilated at the breakdown. I’d like to see Haskell included to bring a more abrasive edge to that area.

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