58 thoughts on “Rate the match: England v France

  1. England was lucky, very lucky.

    They won the game with a lucky try that wasn’t constructed or deserved, plus there was an offside foot, even though I wouldn’t blame the ref for not seeing it.

    France dominated them at the breakdown and it was only 9 points of French ill-discipline that kept England in the match.

    Then came suicide, France took off all their best players in the name of I don’t know what, the modern rugby customary front row change up was stupid, they were still dominant in the scrum when the props started to go off. Then came the unfathomable, the French half backs were replaced by the guys who have put France in this position to start with.

    This England team has a lot of spirit, confidence and discipline but the lack a lot; the backs have no clue when not given total dominance by the forwards, Farrell made lots of bad decisions that cost tries and could have cost the game against a better team, the backrow was destroyed in the first half, only Robshaw looked the part, the others were both out of positions so not really their fault.

    Can’t see Wales winning although they really could, this six nations looks like England’s

  2. Great game.

    I think that there were a few key things that won England the game.

    1. England substitutions. All of them made an impact. I thought that playing Lawes at 6 looked like a big mistake, and had France not shot themselves in the foot they could have won the game. Tom Youngs came on and was great going forward. Haskell much better. Also, although Marler was good; Vunipola really added something extra. Very aggressive around the pitch, and the scrum was better.
    2. Saint Andre madness. What was he thinking…
    3. Luck

    All in all, great game and now really looking forward to the Italy game.

  3. What did we learn?

    The French first choice 15 are probably better than the English (as expected by most at the start of this 6N).

    International rugby is now played by a 23 man squad, not just the starting 15.

    Lawes isn’t a 6, and as PSA fopund out – don’t play players out of position.

    SL knows how to substitute – PSA doesn’t.

    England Wales looms larger.

    Farrell is human.

    Robshaw looks more and more like a starting Lion and potential captain.

    Luck cuts both ways, but tends to even out. SA anyone! The side going forward also tends to be luckier – NZ anyone.

    England aren’t the finished article, but are moving in the right direction.

    One question – did anyone else think Robshaw was holding onto one of the French players, as well as the ball, when they were pinged for not moving away? Genius if so, but had it been the other way around, well …..

    England may need to keep working on the attacking moves. Wales certainly are.

    1. re: what Robshaw did. You see it a lot. Last week Harlequins pulled Mulipola over their own ball and held him there to get a penalty. Technically illegal, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the referee call it that way.

      I think most of my points about England came true. Lawes is not a flanker or a good tackler, the England scrum would be under pressure with Wood at 8 and Trinh-Duc and Parra is a vastly superior half back pairing and would cause England a lot of trouble and it would be much tighter than a lot of people fancied. I was a bit wrong about Ashton though. I thought he might redeem his poor tackling efforts from Ireland, but missed 3/7 tackles and was turned over 3 times. Disappointing.

      England played better than France, it was a little bit of luck there for the try, but Tuilagi took it well.

  4. Edge of your seat game.
    Deserved win by England I think, although not by that margin.
    Joubert missed A LOT, not just Vunipola’s offside/hands in ruck but also a few French high tackles, uneven lineouts etc.
    A few things have been cemented in terms of England’s positions. Lawes is certainly not a flanker and in the dry; Youngs > Hartley.
    If Lancaster doesn’t start Vunipola against Italy, I will be utterly shocked. The very first scrum after his substitution, he dominated Mas, something Marler had not done the entire game.
    Farrell is no longer the Ice Man, quite the opposite actually, seemd very hot headed in the opening quarter, luckily it didn’t effect his boot. I would put down the two he missed to the injury as he was already limping after the missed conversion.

    Massively looking forward to Ireland/France in a fortnights time. Ireland will not in the slightest put up with the French desperation; of which there will be plenty to avoid a 4th consecutive defeat.

  5. This side continue to impress me. Not pretty. No way the finished article. But very hard nosed and hard to beat. Thought Lawes was v. poor today and Ashton is surely on borrowed time.

    1. NEVER is the answer your looking for. Lawes has always been an over hyped liability, and I’ve never understood what it is he’s ever actually done to merit a place in England’s EPS. He can’t tackle, he’s clumsy around the ball and never seems to muck in doing anything

      1. So if he has never played a good game for England how did me manage to get the 2010 Investec man of the series award?

        Yes he had a really bad game today, playing out of position in a gamble that didn’t pay off, doesn’t mean he should be discarded from the EPS though. Think Launchbury & Lawes is our pairing of the future.

        1. Lawes basically lost us the game last year against Wales when he was stripped of the ball by Scott Williams because he ran in to contact isolate
          . It seems that every decision this guy makes on the pitch is a bad one. During the Rugby World Cup he foolishly got banned for pointlessly kneeing Mario Ledesma. Today he was no different than usual, by clumsily knocking clean rucked ball back to the French, dropping passes, missing tackles, and generally spectating rather than participating. He’s never ever proved why he’s apparently so good! The best thing I’ve seen him do was launch himself head first into the Irish and knock himself out. That just shows what poor technique he has!

  6. Thought England had a pretty mixed game. I thought Lawes had a shocker, missing quite a few tackles, including a missed tackle that led to the french try, although he cant be entirely blamed for the try. Im not so sure that Ashton really merits his place in the starting squad anymore, no doubt he has quality, but he simply isnt playing as well as he used.

    Thought Robshaw had yet another fantastic game, he was everywhere. Also thought Tuilagi had a good game along with Parling and Launchbury.

    For me though the true heroes of the match for England were the subs, each of which had a big impact. Tempo picked up in the final quarter when the substitutes were made. Haskel to start next week for Lawes, Vunipola for Marler, Youngs for Hartley and Care for Youngs.

  7. must admit, i was wrong about lawes. he had a shocker at 6. whether this was because he had a bad game at 6 or a bad game because he was 6, i am not too sure, but either way it was a bad game from him. too many missed tackles. although going low is a great way to stop someone, he just throws himself at ankles, and players like fofana simply step and then they have beaten him.

    farrell did seem to get a bit more heated than usual, but managed to keep his head when he had to, so cant complain too much there.

    b. youngs didnt have his best (or worst game) but i wouldnt be surprised to see care get a start. similarly with hartley, not an awful game, but t. youngs had such an impact that it would be harsh to leave him out again. haskell did well when he came on. i would like to see him start and have b. vunipola and lawes on the bench for next week. mako to start next week.

    great game from manu, would be nice to see him as 12Ts get a run against italy. not only because i think it could be a very effective pairing, but it might be nice to give barritt a bit of a break.

    ashton may be under threat based on the fact that strettle scored 2 tries against the tigers tonight (one was a piece of solo magic) and ashy is yet to produce the goods in this 6Ns.

    credit to parling, launchbury robshaw and wood, all at their industrious best today.

    i think brown and goode were once again pretty solid. i do think that goode is becoming more and more exposed as a fullback who is great at defensive positioning, but doesnt offer a hard-hitting/fast line runner when entering the attacking line. i am still keen on foden having some form of involvement.

    my team for italy:
    1. M. Vunipola
    2. T. Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Parling
    6. Haskell
    7. Robshaw
    8. Wood
    9. Care
    10. Farrell (if fit – Flood if not)
    11. Brown
    12. Twelvetrees
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Ashton/Strettle (would be tempted with strettle because of how much italy kick)
    15. Goode (especially if the italian stick with burton at 10)

    16. Hartley
    17. Marler
    18. Wilson
    19. Lawes
    20. B. Vunipola
    21. B. Youngs
    22. Flood (Barritt if Farrell is not fit – assuming Burns is still out)
    23. Foden (if fully fit – if not Ashton)

  8. Worst refereeing performance I have seen for along time – a lot of comments about how it affected France but Joubert was unbiased in his inability to ref the game with plenty of incidents that went against England.

    France could be the worlds best team, or the worst. Today they where both. Can’t expect England to be amazing week in week out, but this performance gave me more pleasure than the Irish one as they didn’t play well but kept at it.

    At know stage did I feel England would loose, simply because I knew we had better players on the bench, not only than the French, but as others have said than some of our starting line up. ( wouldn’t be surprised if this was deliberate of Lancaster?). This combined with the Frenchs lack of 80 minutes fitness, as demonstrated throughout this six nations, always meant that unless we got blitzed in the first half we would more than likely come out on top.

  9. Another game where England doesn’t face a good 80 minutes from its opponents. I was magnanimous in defeat two weeks ago when England beat Ireland in the rain; I put Ireland’s handling errors down to English pressure even though Ireland came out ahead of England in nearly every statistical category. But, today France won in the set pieces and were near parity in the rucks, while England were shocking in its tackling. Fair enough, England forced turnovers and won the territory battle, which seems to be the modus operandi of teams today, so it probably feels like it stuck to its game plan. But, the French looked like they were taking the English out of that game plan in the first 45-50 minutes, and so looked the better team. Well, France ring the changes, and it all went to hell for them, with Michalak’s substitution for Trinh-Duc the most significant drop in performance from start to sub; the French lost the upper hand at the set piece, then, too! One Tuilagi scored the try that should have been offsides, the game’s momentum shifted. I’d love to have a look at the statistics up to the 50 minute mark; I would bet England were rampant after that.

    So far, England has only had to be better than a side that was fair or poor on the day; if England has a match against Italy or Wales where it has to be better than a good side for a full 80 minutes, I don’t think that side to win. A year from now maybe, but not this season; shades of 2000, 2001, and 2011 with Wales doing the work its Celtic cousins did before it.

    1. That’s an awful lot of bull you wrote. I personally wouldn’t have wasted my time. If that France team had played against Wales and Italy they would have comfortably won. It’s a good victory against a good team.

    2. And yet Eng were already ahead by thw tine PSA made his subs. Kinda shoots a hole in the Celtic theories that PSA gifted victory to lucky England. The lucky try did not effect.the.result and Fra were unable to pull away from Eng when they were on top.

  10. A few simple changes are needed just to tweak this squad back to its best:

    Haskell to start, and Lawes to the the bench.

    Care to start over Youngs

    Focus on improving the set piece especially the line out.

    Have Chris Ashton hit a tackle bag all weekend then give him one final chance!

    And to be honest I think that’s all that’s needed. Ok I’m sat here wishing we had Botha back in the squad over Lawes, but I suppose you can’t have everything

    1. No – not Haskell to start. He’s proved time and time again that he is liability when he has to play 80 mins, but is operating very well off the bench so leave him there. What we need is a proper 8 to play 8. Don’t really care if it is Vunipola, Waldrom or Morgan, just play an 8. Robshaw and Wood then pick themselves.

  11. Delighted that we managed to win a game where we were second best in many facets of the game …. but disappointed that we were second best in so many facets of the game! Without PSA sending the B team on and a couple of lucky decisions/bounces I’m not sure we would have won that one.

    Personally I would have given Picamoles the MotM, thought he was excellent.

    OK France had a formidable scrum, no disgrace to being second best there, but I didn’t expect to be second best at the breakdown and the lineout. The breakdown was the most disappointing aspect in that we didn’t manage to find the intensity of the last few games. A valuable lesson that we can’t match really strong tight 5s in an arm wrestle.

    I’m a big fan of both Lawes and Ashton, so take no pleasure in saying they were really poor. Lawes was awful in the first 30mins, couldn’t make a tackle, thought he was OK for the next 20. Back 3 in general is not offering enough of a threat (nowhere near as potent as the Scottish back 3). Goode’s brain is brilliant, but it’s not currently in the body of a good enough athlete to strike fear into any opposition. Brown is reminding me a bit of Cueto in such that he seems to make a lot of decent contributions but isn’t looking like crossing the whitewash and I can’t find anything positive in Ashton’s contribution.

    At least there was a clear victor in the battle of the midfield big men. Huge credit to Tuilagi for putting in that performance with an ear that took 40 mins to stitch back up after the match.

  12. Of the staring 15’s who would you pick for a combined team from that game?

    French front row.
    Launchbury, Parling
    Robshaw, Picamoles, One of Wood, Dusaitoir and Nyanga (really can’t decide)
    Parra
    Trinh Duc
    Fofana, Tuilagi
    No one on the wings – none of them did anything, although for lack of negative plays Brown and Clerc.
    Huget

    9 1/2 to 5 1/2 split, although I would then choose the entire England bench which evens it up.

    Other thoughts.

    Not sure Ireland will be relishing playing France nuch now.

    Cole’s starting Lions place may be in doubt, although as it’s the Aussies he may be ok for his work in the loose. That’s 2 weeks in a row he’s been second best in the scrum.

    Why can’t England produce a wing, or when we get one help them develop rather than see them regress.

    1. Staggy to question Dan Coles Lions cedentials is rediculous.He saved our scrum from complete disaster in the 1st half. Domingo is one of the best loose heads in the and he had Marler and Hartley who both had poor games outside him.Give him a break without him we would have lost end of story.

    2. Second best in the scrum comes from not having the right shunt behind you. That comes from the second rows and the backrow. Props make the hit and get the bind, it’s then up to the second and backrow to get stuck in and shove. Cole made his hits, but Lawes with his hand bind on 2nd row isn’t getting his shoulder in to shove or dragging his second row forward. Net result, England lose 100Kg in the scrum. Add to that the fact that Tom Wood is not operating at number 8 to get the shove on and control the scrum you have issues.

      Nothing wrong whatsoever with the England front row. Cole’s yellow card at the end though was collosally stupid and a little out of character.

      1. the second row dont stop front rows lifting out of scrums because they arnt good enough liek dan cole isnt good enough

  13. Ayear ago France would have been 20 point clear and the game over at half time. To weather the storm and win the game {all be it with a large slice of luck shows how far we have come. To continue to progress S.L. has decisions to make.Marler and Hartley and our back three in particular. Well done France a much improved performance.

  14. I know that Ashton is not the best defensive winger, but offensively it appears he is marshalled really well due to his reputation. I know he is not in the EPS, but I would love to see Wade given a chance as he may provide more of a spark. If not against Italy, then maybe the Argentina tour.

    For the Italy game I would like to see Mako starting and Billy either on the bench or starting at 8. If not, then another for the Argentina tour!

  15. Well done England,

    As an old french fan, and this blog seeming to be more serious than many others place on the web, I would be very interested in your opinions about Mr Joubert’s performance of last day.

    I may be partisan but I try to be as objective as possible and I really don’t understand the way he refeered yesterday, especially in the rucks.

    Any opinion ?

    1. I think his contact area and breakdown was fine. His interpretation was different to mine but at least consistent. Certainly not like his refereeing of the world cup final.

      Where I think he did fail a bit was spotting stuff in the loose. Knockons, high tackles, offsides, I don’t think he had the best game from that angle.

    2. Yes, not convinced by his reffing to be honest. I think that he let the game go to a certain extent. I’m not sure if this was to try to let it flow or not, but not sure it was done right.

      France can have cause to complain, but ultimately this is the sort of luck that runs in the game sometimes, and you just have to roll with it. However I wouldn’t say the ref was the reason England won.

  16. I don’t think questioning Cole’s place in the Lions is warranted. It’s not that he had a poor game, it’s that Hartley and Marler had a poor game. The first scrum after Youngs and Vunipola came on, we dominated. Were it not for Cole, France would have either made 10 metres or been awarded a penalty at every scrum in the first half.

    Starting XV for Italy would be:
    1) M.Vunipola, 2) Youngs, 3) Cole, 4) Launchbury, 5) Parler, 6) Wood, 7) Robshaw, 8) B.Vunipola, 9) Youngs, 10) Farrell, 11) Brown, 12) Twelvetrees, 13) Tuilagi, 14) Wade, 15) Goode.

    If Youngs and Farrell have another lackluster game, start Care and Flood against Wales but I’d love to see nothing more than Farrell returning as the Iceman and retainging his former composure. Italy aren’t likely going to launch very many super attacks that will warrant Barritt’s presence which gives Lancaster a perfect opportunity see more of Twelvetrees, same reasoning for picking B. Vunipola.

    Ashton has good pace and is a good finisher but he just doesn’t have a rugby mind and simply can’t tackle. I counted 2 occassions where he picked up a kicked ball when he should have kicked and chased it on, both of which could have easily led to tries. He also made himself look like a total tool throwing the ball at Fall, I have no idea why Fall was up in Ashton’s grill the way he was, the only thing I can think of is frustration at a 3rd consecutive defeat but in throwing the ball at him, Ashton just made himself look just as unprofessional, if not more so. Wade has shown (at club level at least) that he is good at more than just running. And similarly with the Twelvetrees and B. Vunipola selection, when facing an Italy without Parisse, we can afford to make a few experimental changes.

    Brown keeps his shirt on the basis that he makes gaining metres look easy and Goode proved that although he might not have the speedy counterattacking abilities of Foden, his hands are considerably safer and he has what it takes to stop “The Wrecking Ball” Picamoles from a definite try. Would love to see him gain a bit more athleticism and pace though.

  17. The game was as expected – something close to the real France turned up, and we were found lacking in many areas. Was really disappointed with Courtney Lawes, I thought his inclusion was a great decision, but on the day he was awful. Always had my doubts about Marler and it it showed, Hartley pretty ineffectual compared to Youngs (he has to be first choice going forward), but the biggest weak link of all is Ashton. He really is a defensive liability, and doesn’t do much offensively either – for me he let’s the side down and should be dropped form the squad period, he’s being carried.
    All other players did well to varying degrees in what was clearly a very difficult match. The side is so nearly excellent, let’s clear out the 2-3 weak links and we will be world class

  18. I’m not sure Youngs was having as poor a game as some are suggesting. Certainly not worth dropping him over. Half the issue is that he’s attacking the gainline and Farrell and England reverted to sitting deep and not attacking the gainline. Really doesn’t help your scrum half who is trying to get things moving. What helped Care to look better was Flood coming on who was always attacking the gainline and brought the backline with him.

    1. I’m known for giving props a bit of stick for the job that they do, but a scrum is 8 men. While the props are generally the ones penalised at scrum time, there’s plenty going on in the scrum that will make it more difficult for them. The pressure from not having a proper 6 or 8 puts so much additional pressure on at the scrum but it’s always translated into issues that mean that the front row is going backwards, standing up or falling down and I feel that’s a large part of what we saw in the scrum yesterday.

  19. England were pretty poor the French were worse. Good to see Fofana back in his actual position and impressing. Also it’s very nice to see Parra back and controlling the game.
    Lawes was rubbish as usual and England has lots of young wingers to pick from when does Ashton get his last chance? Christian Wade would be good.

    Also why have some of the players become childish footballers? Ashton threw a ball at someone, Parra took a somewhat overly dramatic dive and even Farrell managed to get in a bit of a childish scuffle. What you need is Nigel Owens refereeing he’d have sorted it.

    1. Erm i’m not excusing Ashton but if you watch the incident again the French player pushed Ashton into a camera man so could’ve injured Ashton to be honest.

    2. it was childish from Fall (the frenchman) but even worse from ashton. thats the kind of thing that you should just laugh off. instead ashton reacted because A. he always feels he has to have the last word B. he is becoming obviously frustrated due to a lack of form.

      i get Mr B’s point about how he could have been injured, but had this happened earlier in the match, Ashton could have had a penalty reversed, because he can never seem to control himself.

      its time we had a look at wade, may, yarde or even strettle on the wing. (i know i have never been a fan of strettle, but he got two great tries this weekend, and ashton has done sweet FA recently.)

      1. I agree to look at options over Ahston as if you read my other comment he was to blame for Fofanas try and where better to try somebody else than Italy at Twickenham.

        Yes Ashton is petulant but I don’t see it as a laughing off incident but he does need to control himself.

        1. i agree with you totally there.

          i also know that because of the risk of injury that it probably isnt a laughing off situation. having said that, its what ashton should have done. he wasnt injured, and he of all people knows what its like when you are frustrated (i believe i have seen him push players like he was a number of times).

          this was 6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other. my issue is that there sholdnt have been any of the other. this whole england mantra is meant to be based on young men behaving maturely and using their heads, i just get the feeling that ashton is not really doing either of them. so that being said, and combined with his lack of form, it HAS to be time to look at another winger for the italy game.

          my only worry with wade is that he will be targeted by north and cuthbert if we do let him play against wales.

  20. WHY!……so your winning at half time and your team is working after a horibble streak of losses, your game is controlled and you are trying things which are threatening the other team. So now you take off your best players like Trinh duc who was having a thriller of a game and done nothing wrong.
    now parra comes off who is the pace of the game, now the opposition find gaps and they start to score, its to late your realised you made the mistake but the loss is already recorded/ i dont understand france sometimes.

    1. As an England fan, I was cursing Saint André for the changes he made. Best French side yet this competition and fell apart when the changes were made. I don’t believe the excuses that they play too much and they’re all too tired, the selections just aren’t there and France won’t improve until the selections do.

      1. Agree with you wookie, I don’t buy this “not fit enough” lark.

        I think the biggest issue for the French is their lack of depth. This can be attributed to the number of “foreign” players in key positions playing for all the best clubs in the top 14. They aren’t able to call on quality players from their bench, and they have to play a fair few out of position.

  21. For me I think Flood sohuld start at Fly Half I think Farrell is a good Fly Half who is an excellent at place kicking but his positional play isn’t the best, I felt once Flood came on England had the cutting edge going forward with more urgency and quicker passing.

    Please don’t pick Courtney Lawes at 6 again as both he and Chris ‘Can’t Tackle’ Ashton were both to blame for Fofana’s try.

    As for England’s try it shouldn’t of stood due to accidental off side but you play to the ref’s whistle.

    England deserved the win in the end but PSA shot himself in the foot with his substitutions as that helped England take control and I also feel France were lucky not to have a sin binning as I lost count on the amount of times they were penalised for going off thier feet.

  22. I tend to agree with the Ashton comments; I am a massive fan of his but he did have a poor game. I wouldn’t drop him though, particularly not for Strettle. When it comes to Wade, I am a Wasps fan and a huge Wade fan, but he is not better off defensively that Ashton.

    And I think the Youngs/ Care and Hartley/ Youngs debates are interesting. I always find it funny that it seems whoever is not starting should be stating. I am sure if T.Youngs and Care started against Italy we would all want B.Youngs and Hartley to start the following game. The reason for this is that England always look good in he last 20; this is due to high fitness and a good bench. In reality; we have two very good 9s and 2s, and any of them could start and I would be happy. I will say I would rather it be B.Youngs and Hartley personally.

    And I just wanted to add; I thought Flood was excellent when he came on! I am sort of hoping Farrell is injured so that Flood will start against Italy.

  23. Saint Andre has to be the worst coach in the 6 nations, perhaps world rugby? France had that game by the neck and should have closed it out for a win but the substitutions killed it.

    Baster is an awful rugby player. Big yes, but tactically naive and has the tackling technique of a 6 year old girl. Woeful.

    I don’t follow rugby league so don’t get the wrong end of the stick here, I want to ask a genuine question. Is chuntering at the ref common and indeed even expected in league? Is it more like football? I couldn’t believe the moaning and prancing from Ashton and Farrell all game. Absolute losers. Healy was rightly pilloried all over the place for his lack of composure in the Ire/Eng match so I’d expect to see the same for Farrell. Cheap shots, laughably feeble pushing and off the ball afters. This idea that he has a cool head is completely blown out of the water. He’s calm when kicking but when the opposition of the ball he runs around like a kid on Ritalin.

    1. Have to say that I don’t totally agree on this occasion. What Farrell did and what Healy did were two different things. Farrell was pushing and stupid playground stuff, Healy was trying to deliberately injure someone. There is a difference.

      However was Farrell acting a prat – yes. And he wasn’t concentrating on his game to the exclusion of all else which was why he probably had his worst game for a while. He shouldn’t be dropped on the basis of this, but he should certainly get a stern reminder as to future conduct.

      Ashton as we all know is a prat who we nonetheless love when he is scoring tries. When he isn’t, well….. maybe a chance for someone else to have a game against Italy. I actually think May is playing really well at the moment and deserves a shot.

  24. I think that Ashton is getting a little bit of a bad press for the Fofana try. His effort at tackling certainly looked half-hearted BUT, to be fair to him, he was tracking the outside player (Fall?) and had every expectation that Lawes would nail Fogfana. When it became clear that Fofana had slipped outside Lawes – and let’s credit Fofana here, not simply criticise Lawes – then Ashton was stuck in no-man’s land, and in no position to tackle Fofana. For his second attempt, Young’s covering tackle attempt, effectively stopped Ashton from catching Fofana.

    I am not saying that Ashton was great, or even was not at fault, but there is a little more to Fofana’s try than simply bad tackling from Ashton.

    Would Wade have done better in that situation???

    1. having watched the try again, i agree that lawes should ave made the tackle, and youngs should have done better too,

      but after lawes, and before youngs, ashton gets well and truely beaten by fofana. ashton is not in the line with lawes, because he is backtracking to ensure that he has both men covered. once lawes misses, he commits to fofana (as he should, and fall begins to drift inside) but gets sidestepped and can simply offer a turnstile-like arm as resistance. credit to ashton for tracking back for a second bite of the cherry, but he was unlikely to make that tackle against a finisher of fofana’s quality.

      the biggest issue here is lawes missing the first tackle, then ashton being stepped, and youngs going WAY to high. even though marler missed an attempt too, i think he was too far away and did well just to get close enough.

      the questions of ashton’s defence were raised more about the entire game than just this one incident. yes ashton didnt do very well here, but the problem was started by a missed tackle from lawes.

      1. simo, I agree about the general nature of Ashton’s defence.

        I guess that as someone who played many times on the wing, I am sensitive to criticism around perceived poor attempts at a tackle when defending wide. It is not always quite as it seems, as wingers tend to be left very exposed in situations such as this, and too often become the fall-guys.

        In retrospect he should have left Fofana, and tracked Fall, which would have provided (a) him with momentum to catch Fofana and (b) less width for Fofana to evade Youngs (and possibly Marler). Ashton just got caught between stepping in, and staying wide.

        That said; it was brilliant by Fofana.

      2. Credit where credit’s due on the Fofana try. Lawes stuffed it royally. He keeps holding left, ignoring Marler defending there, by the time he goes right it’s too late and Ashton has to come off his wing where he’s marking Fall. Ben Youngs is just done for pace and strength and Ashton’s second bite of the cherry is scuppered by falling over Ben Youngs.

        It was a simple 2 on 2 and Lawes’ dithering – and eventual ineffectual tackle -made it a 2 on 1 against Ashton who tried to hold off 2 men.

  25. Ashton strikes me as a confidence player. He does have issues with his defence, but it is not as if it is a new thing that has crept in to his game. I think he’s a little down on confidence which is casuing to play a more subdued game. I think dropping Ashton against Italy would be a mistake. It’s exactly the sort of game where he can get back to some form and hopefully we get to see the swallow dive.

    He does need to cut out the petulance though. He suffers a bad rep and antics like at the end of the game only serve to bring more heat down on him.

  26. As someone who was at the game on Saturday, I do not understand the demand for Danny Care to start. Youngs is playing is most consistent rugby for England in years, with a far superior kicking game to Care. Care is a good club player, but is not in the same league as Youngs, who is by FAR England’s best option at 9.

    The criticism of Lawes is frankly ridiculous too. Anyone who has been watching the game for longer than 12 months knows that he is one of England’s best options in the second row. It’s not his fault he’s being played out of position. Maybe Lancaster has finally learnt his lesson by playing too many players out of position. Our best flanker, Wood, at 8 should never have happened. Still, I’d much prefer Wood at 8 than Nick Easter!

    Surely that was Marler’s last chance too? Vunipola must start against Italy.

    1. On Lawes, out of the position in the scrum, it’s fair to say that it will have effected his influence in the scrum. In the loose though he had no excuse for his tackling and defensive issues, which is a large part of what he was criticised for. That said, I can’t really say that aside for a few big hits, I’ve never been overly impressed by him playing at second row for the same reasons. He rushes up out of the line to make the biggest most effective hit possible. Great when he nails it, colossally troublesome when he misses it. I’ve said for a while now he needs to cool down and focus on making the tackle and picking the right guy and then making the tackle safely instead of injuring himself or making an illegal challenge.

  27. I think we will see a few positional changes for the Italy game. I expect Flood to start, and I would like to see Brown at full back with Strettle own the wing. The other big change (if he’s fit) is Billy V at 8 with Wood returning to 6. Haskell on the bench for back row, and Lawes on the bench for the second row cover.

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